Joe Hart has left Manchester City permanently after a glittering 12-year career at the Etihad Stadium.
Hart, 31, signed an initial two-year deal at Burnley on Tuesday, with the Premier League surprise package of last season eager for a new goalkeeper after first-choice Nick Pope suffered a serious shoulder injury and former first-choice stopper Tom Heaton continues to recover from his latest injury.
Burnley paid $4.5 million for Hart.
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The England international goalkeeper has been surplus to requirements at City since Pep Guardiola arrived as manager in the summer of 2016, with Hart loaned out to Torino and West Ham United in each of the past two seasons.
Speaking about his move to Turf Moor, Hart reflected on his time at Man City as he was lauded by City’s owners and Vincent Kompany in a heartfelt statement upon his departure.
“It’s been a fantastic experience, I’ve grown a lot. I came here at 19 and I’m going to leave at 31 so it’s been a long time and lot of things have happened – family, friends and a lot of football!” Hart said. “I certainly feel a lot of love and appreciation. I’ve always enjoyed the Man City fans, I came here as a Shrewsbury Town player – a kid from Shrewsbury. It was the pinnacle for me to be at this Club before they were challenging for the title, and I was welcomed from day one. I think they saw in me someone who was just going to try his best.”
Being instantly cast aside by Guardiola will have hurt Hart badly and a lack of confidence has been present in his game during loan spells at Torino and West Ham as he also lost his place as England’s starting goalkeeper and wasn’t even in their 2018 World Cup squad. Guardiola’s need for a goalkeeper who is comfortable with the ball at his feet was the main reason for ousting Hart, with Claudio Bravo struggling to deliver that but then Ederson cemented himself as City’s undisputed top dog in goal.
Throughout all of that, Guardiola has lauded Hart’s professionalism and the goalkeeper spent preseason with City in the USA as he prepared for an inevitable move away.
As for his move to Burnley, Hart joins Sean Dyche‘s ambitious side who are in Europa League third-round qualifying action in Turkey on Thursday following their seventh-place finish in the PL last season. His experience will be key for the Clarets as they prepare for a third-straight season in the top-flight.
Hart has 75 England caps and made 348 appearances for City, winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups during his time at City. He also won four PL Golden Gloves and was an integral part of City’s hugely successful rebirth under Sheikh Mansour. History will be kinder to him than Guardiola was over the past few years and Hart will go down as a City legend.
Back to the here and now, when Pope, Heaton and Hart are all fully-fit, Burnley will have a tough choice as to who their number one goalkeeper is but that decision will not arrive for a few months as Hart is expected to come straight in and play ahead of now fourth-choice goalkeeper Anders Lindergaard.