Pep Guardiola, the new Manchester City manager, has long been rumoured to be unconvinced by Joe Hart. Certainly, if Guardiola was unsure about the England goalkeeper’s ability, Hart did not help his cause by exhibiting some fundamental handling errors during Euro 2016. For a player who has been at the club since 2006 and who prides himself on his professionalism, it is unsurprising Hart has indicated his determination to stay and fight for his place at the Etihad. Besides, even if he may not be flavour of the month, one suspects Guardiola’s arrival at the club will signal an upturn in fortunes for The Citizens.
Nevertheless, Hart is 29 years old and after his performances at Euro 2016, some pundits are already questioning whether he merits his place in the national team. Failure to be selected for his club would seriously jeopardise his chances of retaining his jersey. So ultimately, if he isn’t playing, he needs to move to prevent his career from stalling. But to where?
Although City would be willing to sell the former Shrewsbury player, the cash-rich club are unlikely to sell him in a cut-price deal. If he is forced to leave, Hart would undoubtedly seek a move to a club playing in the Champions League. Yet many of the teams expected to challenge for qualification to the competition this season, such as Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, are unlikely to show any interest due to the faith they have in their own goalkeepers. Everton are looking for a new goalkeeper, but whether they would be willing to spend a large portion of their transfer budget on signing Hart, and whether he would want to move there, remains to be seen.
If domestic options seem limited, the player could move abroad, yet Hart’s weakness with the ball at his feet, as identified by Guardiola, is also likely to make him a less attractive proposition to suitors on the continent.
Sitting on the bench at City, Hart is likely to have some time to mull over his options.