When Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester City last summer, one of his first acts was to effectively end Joe Hart’s career at the Etihad.
By signing Claudio Bravo from Barcelona, the City manager made it crystal clear that the England number one was no longer part of his plans. Guardiola’s rationale for discarding such an influential and popular figure was simple – he was not good enough with the ball at his feet, as reported by the Mirror last August.
While Hart may be a top-class shot-stopper, Guardiola believed he could not fit into his patented brand of football.
Hart agreed to a season-long loan with Torino in Italy, which enabled him to keep hold of his England place despite competition from the likes of Tom Heaton and Fraser Forster. But with that deal expired, and the 30-year-old still out in the cold in Manchester, he is desperately seeking a new club.
Hart’s preference is to remain in the Premier League and therefore on England manager Gareth Southgate’s radar. However, potential destinations are few and far between, particularly now that Everton have completed the £30 million capture of the highly-rated Jordan Pickford from Sunderland. Hart’s wages, understood to be in the region of £150,000 a week, are also a major sticking point for potential suitors.
But there is one club who are emerging as the frontrunners for Hart’s signature. According to BBC Sport, West Ham are weighing up a bid to bring the former Birmingham City loanee to the London Stadium.
Slaven Bilic is desperate to strengthen all ares of his squad following a largely disappointing campaign. The Hammers’ defensive issues have been well documented and the capture of Hart, a top-class goalkeeper, would be a major coup and one that could take the club to the next level.
As mentioned above, Hart’s wages have priced him out of a move to the majority of Premier League outfits. But Bilic has the approval of the club’s owners to make several marquee purchases and they could be able to meet the England gloveman’s financial demands.
For Hart, a move to a club of West Ham’s stature would be an enticing proposition and enable him to get his career back on track. Competition for his place in the national team is stronger than ever, so sitting on the bench for another season is not an option. He would be warmly welcomed by the Hammers’ passionate supporters and could be the first piece of the puzzle as Bilic looks to rebuild the club.
Hart has no future at City and West Ham are on the lookout for an established goalkeeper. There is no surprise that this move has been touted and there appears to be substance to the speculation. West Ham would prefer a loan deal with an option to buy, while City want a permanent transfer. Nevertheless, an agreement could well be reached to take Hart to East London.