Manchester City are stepping up their goalkeeper search after Pep Guardiola has decided that Joe Hart doesn’t fit into his plans. They have agreed personal terms for Claudio Bravo and he looks to be the favourite to become Guardiola’s number one at the Etihad Stadium. The deal has been delayed due to Marc-Andre Ter Stegen picking up a knee injury, but if the German recovers, Bravo is likely to join Manchester City.
Guardiola knows that a new goalkeeper is required if his philosophy is to be successfully implemented at his new club. He took a powerful stance on the opening day by selecting Willy Cabellero ahead of Joe Hart, making clear that he doesn’t want Hart to be his number one. This has made it imperative that the club bring in a goalkeeper as the world now knows that the England international isn’t part of Guardiola’s long-term plans.
If they fail to do so, Guardiola has put the club in a difficult situation, as it will be hard to promote Hart back into the first team. The player himself will feel that he isn’t fully trusted by the new manager, while Guardiola won’t have confidence in Hart to carry out the sweeper-keeper role. It shows that there won’t be any decisions made for sentimental reasons and Guardiola will be ruthless as he tries to create a team capable of dominating in England and abroad.
There are a lot of issues with Hart’s game, which has prevented him from developing into a world-class goalkeeper. He can be too passionate and that results in some silly errors. This was evident at the European Championships, with Hart making mistakes on at least two of the goals that England conceded. However, the main issue Guardiola has is that he isn’t capable of playing as a sweeper-keeper with his distribution being poor. Moreover his decision-making regarding whether he comes out of his area to break down attacks is poor.
This is why Guardiola is going for a quick-fix this summer, targeting both Barcelona goalkeepers. It looks like Bravo will be the one who joins, with Barcelona preferring to keep Ter Stegen as a longer term solution. Bravo will be a good signing, as he is used to playing as a sweeper-keeper at Barcelona, therefore he won’t need as much coaching to play that role. This late into the window, Guardiola needs an already established goalkeeper and Bravo fits the bill.
In terms of distribution, Bravo would be a significant improvement on Hart and Guardiola places that above shot-stopping when selecting a goalkeeper. The Chilean’s distribution success last season was 86%, which is a lot higher than Hart’s 59%. He was also a lot more comfortable playing it short with the average distribution length of 28m. Whereas Hart preferred to play the ball long with his average distribution length being 43m.
Although Bravo is known for being one of the best goalkeepers at distributing the ball, he is also an excellent shot-stopper as well. He made 3.4 saves per goal during the 2015/16 campaign, which is once again superior to Hart who made just 1.91 saves per goal.
Joe Hart is better at controlling his area than the Chilean, which isn’t surprising given that he is taller than the Barcelona keeper. Guardiola has never looked for an imposing figure to be his number one and in the leagues he has previously managed in, that hasn’t been a problem. However, the Premier League is the most physical league in the world and there are a few sides who play a robust style, which could cause Bravo problems. That is the one big concern that Manchester City fans will have about Bravo’s playing ability.
It is going to be fascinating to see how the goalkeeper situation plays out at Manchester City. I don’t think there is a way back for Joe Hart at the club after being left out for Willy Cabellero on the opening day. There is an obvious lack of belief in him from Guardiola to carry out the role he wants his goalkeeper to play. For that reason they need to strengthen in that area and Bravo could be a great purchase to be the number one for the next few years.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Francisco Javier Fernandez