Joe Hart, England’s undisputed goalkeeper seven weeks ago, faces the prospect of fighting in a three-man rotation to be considered Manchester City’s primary reserve if he fails to leave the Etihad Stadium before the summer transfer window closes on Wednesday.
The City star’s spectacular fall from grace gathered pace on Friday as manager Pep Guardiola confirmed the status quo among his goalkeeping corps if, as is becoming increasingly likely, Hart and City fail to find a transfer away from the Etihad before the end of the month.
Claudio Bravo has completed his £13.75m transfer from Barcelona, although will not be considered for Sunday’s game against West Ham, which means that current first choice Willy Caballero is likely to continue against Slaven Bilic’s team.
Highly-regarded youngster Angus Gunn remains with the club, also, meaning that should Hart stay in Manchester, Guardiola will rotate his three reserve goalkeepers in the competition to be considered reserve to Bravo.
“We’re going to speak about the situation in the last days. We’re going to decide the best for Joe but for Willy and Angus as well,” said Guardiola. “Of course it is not an ideal situation but I will respect their contracts and the situation. I will be clear what will be the solution.
“If all four stay here the best solution is for everybody to be involved in our idea. They are going to be involved in our idea.
“They are going to be in rotation, part of that. So Joe, Willy and Angus stay then it won’t be the same one who is always on the bench. Maybe they go into rotation to find a solution – the best for us and them. They need to play. The situation is not easy right now.
Pep Guardiola has established his authority early (Getty)
“But of course the best solution is to find the best for them, and of course for Joe, for Willy, for Angus, they need to play. The situation is not easy right now but we are going to find the best solution for all of them.”
Hart, who had initially been linked with a possible move to Everton or Sevilla, has not been helped by City seeking a loan transfer fee for the player, and a salary that stands around £120,000 a week.
Bravo, 33, has joined City’s expensively-assembled squad and is considered fully match fit although his lack of training time with his new colleagues means he has not been considered for a debut on Sunday.
“He’s fit but he’s not going to play this weekend,” said Guardiola. “He’s a goalkeeper with a lot of experience in Spain, and with the national team. He played in Real Sociedad and after two years in Barcelona, playing important games in the national team, helped with his teammates create something special in Chile.
“He has experience, anticipate situations not in the box, in front of the box, good in the build-up plays, quick under the posts, he is a good player for us.”
Joe Hart has just under a week to plan his next move (Getty)
The City manager also responded for the first time to the Champions League draw that placed his side in the same group as Barcelona, the club he played for and managed with such distinction.
“I cannot deny this was special for me,” said Guardiola. “I grew up in Catalonia, I was 13 years old when I went to their academy, promoted to a professional player and trainer.
“I spent most of my life there. I know the people there, most of the players are still there. The emotion is there.
“It happened last season with Bayern Munich. It has happened this year and if I continue to train in the high level and we arrive in the Champions League it is going to happen more times.
“The first time is ‘wow.’ The second time is the second time. In the future it will be normal. Barcelona is always there and Manchester City will always be there.
“They will check our level, our current level. There isn’t a better team to check our current level as a team.
“But of course it’s just the beginning. We need some time. We have to put up with that because it is the draw and we will have to face it.”