English Premiership

Guardiola casts doubt on Hart's City future

2016-08-12 18:53
joe hart
Joe Hart (Getty Images)

Manchester - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola cast doubt on goalkeeper Joe Hart's future at the club on Friday after indicating that his place in the squad was up for discussion.

Hart, 29, has been City's first-choice goalkeeper for the past six seasons, contributing to two Premier League title wins, two League Cup successes and their 2011 FA Cup triumph.

But media reports suggest Guardiola wants to replace him with Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen and the new City manager failed to give Hart a ringing endorsement when asked about the matter.

"Joe is a player I'm so happy about his qualities, his behaviour, what he means to this club," Guardiola said, on the eve of his side's opening league game at home to Sunderland on Saturday.

"After, we are going to decide inside the doors. Now, he is a player of us."

Guardiola took City's pre-season spending to around £150m earlier this week by signing young English centre-back John Stones from Everton for 47.5 million pounds.

Guardiola said Stones was fit to play against Sunderland, having made several appearances for Everton in pre-season.

But Germany winger Leroy Sane, a £37m capture from Schalke, will not feature, having not trained this week due to a hamstring complaint.

Stones's availability is good news for Guardiola, who has several issues in central defence.

Captain Vincent Kompany is working his way back to fitness after groin surgery and Nicolas Otamendi is due to undergo a pre-match fitness test on a tendon problem.

French centre-back Eliaquim Mangala, meanwhile, is out of favour, having been omitted from City's squad for their Champions League play-off tie against Steaua Bucharest.

City play Steaua in the first leg in Romania on Tuesday.

'PLAY WITH SOUL'

Guardiola said he could yet make further additions to his squad before the transfer window closes at the end of August, depending on his team's performances over the next three weeks.

"August 31 is the last day," the former Bayern Munich coach told a press conference at City's training centre in Manchester.

"We are going to see at that time which players will stay, which players are going to be loaned, which are going to be sold, which players coming.

"We are going to see these three weeks how is the game, how is the team, how is the smell.

"With Txiki (Begiristain, sporting director), with the chairman (Khaldoon Al Mubarak), we are going to talk about that. We are going to decide."

He added: "Of course we have 28, 29 players. We have to reduce our squad."

City's hierarchy had coveted Guardiola for several years before his appointment as the successor to Manuel Pellegrini was confirmed in February.

While he warned that it will take time for City to start playing like his swashbuckling Barcelona and Bayern teams, he expects his players to play with "soul" from the word go.

"Tomorrow, to create something we need time. To create something with ideas to attack, we need time," he said.

"But to play with soul, with something inside, we don't need time. Tomorrow, maybe we're not going to play good.

"I don't know what's going on (in terms of) the success, the result, but we're not going to accept not playing with soul. Because with that, we don't need time.

"I want to play good. My dream is of course to win, but before I want to play good. Football is not all about courage or something.

"Of course it's so important, but when you win, it's because you play good. To play good, you need time. But for the other side, soul on the field, of course tomorrow it has to be there."

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