This time last year, everything was looking rosy for Joe Hart. The 29-year-old goalkeeper was still the established first choice at Manchester City, and he was looking forward to the 2016 European Championships where there were high hopes for his England side. They were exciting times for Hart, a man who appeared to be hitting his best form.
One year on, his fortunes seem to have changed dramatically with widespread reports that he is no longer wanted by new boss Pep Guardiola. With over 340 appearances for Manchester City, more than 60 England caps, and a Premier League winner’s medal, plenty of teams will be looking to snap up one of the finest English keepers of this generation.
However, which three sides in particular though should look at making the signing of Joe Hart?
A potential suitor in the Premier League could well be Everton. In recent years under Roberto Martinez the Toffees, endured frustrating times, with fans growing increasingly fed up with the quality of defending and the lack of money being spent on new acquisitions.
However, changes are in the wind at Goodison, and the club have already signed Yannick Bolasie from Crystal Palace for £30 million, as well as Ashley Williams from Swansea City and Idrissa Gueye from Aston Villa amongst others. So, could they be willing to spend more money on Joe Hart?
This summer, they have already purchased Martin Stekelenburg from Fulham. The 33-year-old Netherlands stopper will provide plenty of experience with his previous clubs including Ajax, Roma and Monaco. Whilst at Fulham however, he only managed 19 appearances in 3 seasons. Even though he did play 17 times for Southampton during a loan spell the previous campaign, he has far less game time under his belt in recent years in comparison to Joe Hart.
Whilst Stekelenburg is a solid and dependable goalkeeper, there is no denying that he is not at the same standard as Joe Hart. One of Hart’s most apparent features is his passion for the game, something that would help him become a fans’ favourite at Goodison Park. With the backing of Koeman and the Everton faithful, Hart could return to his best form and show why he is still the best goalkeeper in England. If Everton are genuine about pushing for an unlikely European position, the signing of Joe Hart would be a real statement of intent.
Of course, Joe Hart may decide his pastures new lies abroad. In which case, he may catch the interest of Borussia Dortmund. The German side currently have two main goalkeepers in their squad, Roman Weidenfeller and Roman Burki. Weidenfeller, 36, has been with the club since 2002 and has made over 430 appearances. He has an abundance of experience, but his days are coming to an end. Last season he made just a single Bundesliga start with Roman Burki the preferred first choice under Thomas Tuchel.
Burki, 25, is billed as a ‘keeper for the future despite a shaky start to his first season at Westfalenstadion. Notable mistakes included slipping whilst attempting to dribble with the ball in his own penalty area, resulting in a goal for Cologne back in the December Bundesliga fixture, and conceding a needless penalty against Hamburg.
He has already built a reputation however for pulling off sublime saves, some of which have been match winning. As a young, hungry keeper he would relish the chance of competing with Joe Hart, although Hart would no doubt be wanting the number one position to himself.
Hart has been known for the occasional error too. Most recently, he came under scrutiny as England crashed out of the European Championships this summer to Iceland. On his day though, Hart would be an asset for any of the world’s top teams. If Dortmund feel Burki has done enough, then they may look past Joe Hart, on the other hand they may feel the Englishmen would be a step up in calibre as they look to strengthen in a bid to chase down Bayern Munich in the 2016/17 Bundesliga campaign.
An outsider for the potential signature of Hart ironically could be Barcelona. The Spanish giants may well be in need of another goalkeeper, with Claudio Bravo being linked with a move to Manchester City to replace Joe Hart.
The pros for Barcelona is that they would get an internationally experienced goalkeeper, who has played on many of footballs big stages including the World Cup and the Champions League. This is the standard of player usually associated with the Catalan side, so Hart could well be the perfect fit.
One drawback for Barcelona comes in the form of one of Joe Hart’s publicised weaknesses – his distribution. It is a clear reason why Hart has not been featuring for Guardiola since his arrival at Manchester, and something which needs to be improved. Guardiola craves a ‘sweeper keeper’ – someone who is willing to pass the ball out from the back without constantly going direct. If you compare Hart’s passing statistics to those of Manuel Neuer over the last three seasons, the German has played a total of 2077 short passes to team mates. That is nearly four times as many as Joe Hart, who managed 562. With Marc-Andre ter Stegen the other choice currently at Barca; a fantastic distributor of the ball, Hart may find himself behind in the goalkeeping passing statistics in Spain if he were to move.
Nevertheless, what Hart lacks in his progressive style of play, he makes up for in terms of his shot stopping. If Barcelona and Luis Enrique are looking for a shot-stopper rather than the previously desired sweeper keeper, than Hart would be much more suited than ter Stegen. Joe Hart may have come under the microscope recently, but if he was to play regular match football and return to form, any club in the world would be lucky to have him.
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