Manchester City transfer spotlight: ‘Third only to Neuer and Buffon’ – meet Joe Hart’s rumoured replacement
Football stats experts WhoScored.com take a look at the player tipped to sign for Manchester City, potentially at Joe Hart’s expense. Check out more Man City stats on WhoScored.com, and read on for their analysis of Claudio Bravo…
The big shock from Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday was Pep Guardiola’s ruthlessness in dropping Joe Hart. The England international has comfortably established himself as City’s number one goalkeeper during his time at the club, starting 216 of 228 Premier League games in the six seasons prior to Guardiola’s appointment. However, Hart was forced to watch the victory from the substitute bench as the Spaniard opted to instead start Willy Caballero between the sticks.
City’s new manager may have got off to a winning start, but the performance highlighted the need for a consistent ball-playing goalkeeper. Guardiola was lucky enough to be able to call on Victor Valdes and Manuel Neuer during his time with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, respectively, with a shotstopper comfortable both in possession and able to pick out a teammate with ease crucial to Guardiola’s tactics. In that regard, Caballero did little wrong against Sunderland. Granted, a misplaced pass to Sunderland’s Duncan Watmore would not have sat well with the City boss, but an 80% pass success rate, reinforcing his statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘long passing’, was respectable.
Nevertheless, reports in Spain suggest City are close to signing Claudio Bravo from Barcelona. While the Premier League favourites had been linked with a move for teammate Marc-Andre ter Stegen earlier in the summer, the Chile number one now looks to be top of Guardiola’s wishlist. While it remains to be seen whether Barcelona will cash in on Bravo at this point in time given Ter Stegen’s current unavailability due to injury, City are believed to have targeted Bravo as a means of improving the defensive solidity.
The 33-year-old had the second best save success rate (78.9%) in La Liga last season, while only Neuer (40) and Gianluigi Buffon (39) have kept more clean sheets than Bravo (38) in the last two seasons in Europe’s top five leagues. However, Bravo’s impressive shotstopping ability wouldn’t be just the only reason Guardiola pursues his interest in the Chilean. As previously mentioned, the City boss prefers his goalkeepers to be comfortable in possession, which Bravo clearly is.
His pass success rate (84.3%) was the best of all goalkeepers in Europe’s top five leagues last season. Conversely, no goalkeeper averaged fewer accurate passes per game than Hart (10.8) of those to make 20 or more Premier League appearances last term, with ‘long passing’ one of his statistically calculated WhoScored.com weaknesses.
The England international’s pass success rate last season was 52.6%, though with goalkeepers in Spain – in particular Barcelona – enjoying far more time on the ball, Bravo’s superior pass success rate comes as little shock. Manchester City won’t enjoy as much of the ball in every game in the Premier League this season as they did against Sunderland on Saturday (77% possession), so while Bravo’s pass success rate would likely drop, his superior distribution of the ball is a boost.
Indeed, Bravo’s commendable ability when in possession stands him in much better stead than Hart, and while standing at 6ft he is small for a goalkeeper, Guardiola’s need for a shotstopper when comfortable on the ball means the experienced Chilean is the ideal man to fill the goal at the Etihad Stadium. Hart committed more errors that led to a goal (2) than any other player at Euro 2016, while his WhoScored.com rating (5.94) was the second lowest at the summer tournament. A thoroughly underwhelming display for England further convinced Guardiola that he needed to invest in another goalkeeper once the transfer window officially opened, and he seems to have found his man in Bravo.