Football

Bravo in, hart out?

Chile goalkeeper set to join City as Joe's days look numbered

PLAY-OFF

MAN CITY v 
STEAUA BUCHAREST

(Tomorrow, 2.45am, Singtel TV Ch 112 & StarHub TV Ch 212)

  • City lead 5-0 from first leg

Pep Guardiola has not denied that Claudio Bravo could become a Manchester City player in the coming days.

Barcelona recently revealed that City have made an approach for the Chile international goalkeeper.

Speculation that a deal could be imminent has now increased, after Bravo was pictured at the airport in Barcelona yesterday reportedly preparing to board a flight to Manchester.

The City goalkeeping situation has been headline news in the early weeks of the season after new City boss Guardiola made the surprise decision to drop England No. 1 Joe Hart.

Speaking at a press conference, Guardiola said: "I cannot deny what everybody knows.

"Barcelona were the first ones who announced contact with Manchester City but, sorry, the deal is not complete. After that, I will be open to answer questions but, at this moment, he is not our player."

With Willy Caballero having so far been preferred to Hart, the arrival of 33-year-old Bravo could effectively relegate Hart to third choice.

The possibility of this has increased speculation Hart could seek to leave the Etihad Stadium, although reports have suggested Everton's apparent interest has cooled.

But until a time arises when Hart might move on, Guardiola insists the 29-year-old remains part of his squad and he could even play in tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) Champions League play-off, second-leg match against Steaua Bucharest.

The Spaniard said: "He has a chance to play tomorrow. I have said many times, he is our player.

"Until the 31st of this month, all the players here are our players and I work with them like there is no end.

"After we will speak. The situation with Joe, I have spoken clearly about in the last two press conferences."

Guardiola is determined to start moves at the back with a goalkeeper who is "able to play with the ball" and has explained his philosophy to Hart.

"I spoke with Joe from the first moment we met," said City's new coach.

"I try to be clear with my players and I was clear with him.

"The first thing I am looking for from the goalkeeper is to save.

"After that, he has to be able to help us to create a good build-up. That is why I am here."

Asked if any approaches have been received for Hart, who has also been linked with Sevilla, Guardiola said: "I am not able to speak (about that) because I do not know what is going on."

Looking ahead to the match tomorrow morning, Guardiola has urged striker Sergio Aguero to help his side maintain pressure on opponents and not "disappear" when his side do not have possession of the ball.

NEED TO RUN MORE

The Argentinian scored twice in City's 4-1 win against Stoke City last Saturday to take his season's tally to six goals in all competitions.

Guardiola said that Aguero must help his teammates with his movements off the ball.

"It's not enough to receive the ball from his teammates, he has to help us in the first pressure and run a lot and help us a lot with movement," said Guardiola.

"You cannot be brilliant when you disappear when you (don't) have the ball. It's impossible.

"Until now he's doing it and, when that happens, you are involved in defensive tasks and the offensive."

Guardiola also praised young striker Kelechi Iheanacho, who came off the bench and proved influential in City's third and fourth goals against Stoke.

"He (Iheanacho) is always ready," Guardiola said.

"We will need him. Sergio can't play all season and Kelli is going to play.

"We can't achieve anything with just 11 or 12 players. We need everybody and I hope they realise that."

- Wire Services.

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