Three seasons ago, Joe Hart was being lauded as a future England captain and being bracketed with Manuel Neuer and Gianluigi Buffon as some of the greatest keepers in the world.
Fast forward to 2017 and following some inconsistent performances in the Champions League and at Euro 2016, Joe Hart finds himself third choice and surplus to requirements at Man City under Pep Guardiola.
Having spent last season on loan with Torino in Serie A, the 30 year old has acknowledged that in order to stand any chance of making England’s starting eleven in Russia next summer he must leave again to gain regular football.
But with Torino ruling themselves out of the race due to financial constraints, Hart’s future is looking increasingly uncertain.
He is contracted to City until the summer of 2019, on wages of £120,000 per week and is rumoured to be valued at £15+ million by Guardiola. Below we profile three clubs in the running to free Hart of his City nightmare.
Aston Villa (Loan):
If Hart finds himself still searching for a club by mid-August, his attention may once again move to loan suitors. Amongst the clubs rumoured to be willing to eat into Hart’s wage are Championship side Aston Villa.
Steve Bruce is looking to reignite the fire around Villa Park and the signing of England’s first choice keeper would certainly do that. It may also appeal to Hart due to his connections with the city of Birmingham after a brilliant loan spell with Birmingham City in 2009-10.
Verdict: Only likely as a very last resort.
AC Milan (Loan/Permanent):
Sleeping giant Milan have unearthed one of the brightest prospects in world football in 18 Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. But in recent weeks his future has been thrown into doubt after refusing to sign a new contract with Rossoneri.
With Real Madrid and Juventus circling and rumoured to be preparing bids, Milan will surely be considering replacements. Hart would be an obvious choice given his season in Italy last term, while the fee commanded for Donnarumma would negate Milan’s reluctancy to spend big on a transfer fee or wages.
Verdict: If Donnarumma leaves, looks almost certain.
West Ham (Permanent):
The Hammers are the bookies favourites to land Hart after a difficult season with Adrian and Darren Randolph between the sticks, neither able to sustain a good run of form. Though City have expressed a desire not to sell to a Premier League rival, the Hammers’ poor league position last season may mitigate their concerns.
A fee of £15 million would not be out of the question for the London outfit whose record signing is Andre Ayew last summer for £20.5 million. Hart’s wages may prove to be an obstacle, with only Dimitri Payet coming close to matching Hart’s current wage in West Ham’s history.
Verdict: The obvious choice for Hart if many offers were to be on the table. Will likely depend on a pay-cut or Slaven Bilic trimming the club’s wage bill to allow for it.
Written by Sam Hanys.
90maat.com – your digital Premier League guide.