In the wake of Joe Hart‘s benching in Manchester City’s season opening win over Sunderland, Pep Guardiola has attempted to play down any rift between he and the England goalkeeper. His actions have done anything but.
According to multiple reports out of Spain and England, including Mundo Deportivo and the Manchester Evening News, Guardiola has successfully navigated the capture of Barcelona starter Claudio Bravo, with the Chilean agreeing to a four-year contract at the Etihad.
The reports state Bravo will cost City about $23.5 million, about half the value of his contract’s release clause. He will fly to Manchester on Thursday for a medical, according to another report.
The Evening News reports that Guardiola first attempted to secure Bravo’s Barcelona teammate Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who is nine years younger, but the Spanish giants were more willing to part with the 33-year-old Bravo. Last season, the two split time, as Bravo remained first-choice in La Liga play while the young German was picked for the many cup competitions, including the Champions League. There have been rumblings that ter Stegen was awarded the starting spot for this coming season. Bravo started the first leg of the Supercopa against Sevilla on Sunday, a competition which he played in last year as well, but that is largely due to an injury to ter Stegen which should see him return in two weeks.
Bringing in one of the world’s best goalkeepers will further cast Hart aside. Guardiola picked last year’s backup Willy Caballero for the Premier League opener on Saturday, stating the Argentinian had a better pre-season. Hart struggled during England’s Euro 2016 showing, but has been the starter at Manchester City for the past five seasons, retaining a place in the England starting lineup for much of that time.