26 Aug Bravo waits
Claudio Bravo will not be rushed straight into the Manchester City side for their Premier League clash with West Ham this weekend.
The Chile international completed a £13.75million move from Barcelona to City this week and was expected to be installed immediately as Pep Guardiola’s new number one.
But Guardiola, who has so far preferred Willy Caballero to Joe Hart in the Premier League, does not think the 33-year-old is ready for action on Sunday.
It is therefore likely Caballero will play, even though England international Hart returned for Wednesday’s Champions League play-off victory over Steaua Bucharest.
Guardiola said of Bravo: “He’s fit but he’s not going to play this weekend.”
Guardiola, however, made clear he feels Bravo fits the bill in terms of the ball-playing keeper he is looking for, with Hart’s distribution being his perceived weakness.
The Spaniard said at a press conference: “He’s a goalkeeper with a lot of experience in Spain and with the [Chile] national team. His experience, to anticipate situations not in the box and in front of the box, being good in the build-up plays and quick under the posts – he is a good player for us.”
Bravo’s arrival has thrown Hart’s future at the club into doubt. The 29-year-old could find himself third choice if he opts to stay at City beyond next week’s transfer deadline.
Guardiola has said he can move if he wishes but Everton, the club most strongly linked with him, have said they have no interest. Sevilla’s reported enthusiasm has also cooled, leaving Hart – who could fear for his England place – with few apparent options.
Guardiola said: “We want the best for him and of course the club is going to help him get the best solution for him. If the transfer window is closed and he is here, he has to stay here, he will be treated like another one. I will try to be fair with him.”
Guardiola even suggested Hart could alternate with Caballero and the highly-rated Angus Gunn as to who would be number two behind Bravo.
He said: “If all four stay here the best solution is for everybody to be involved in our idea. They are going to be in rotation, part of that.
“So if Joe, Willy and Angus stay then it won’t be the same one who is always on the bench.”
Following Bravo’s signing, City have now spent close to £170million on new players this summer and Guardiola has ruled out any further additions.
“No chance,” he said. “It’s enough. I’m so happy with the squad and the team.”
Guardiola learned on Thursday his Champions League challenge with City this season will take him back to Barcelona, the club where he established himself as one of the world’s foremost coaches.
The 45-year-old, who also had a distinguished playing career at the Nou Camp, won 14 trophies including two Champions League titles in four glittering years in charge of the Catalan giants.
He said: “I cannot deny this was special for me. I grew up in Catalonia. I was 13 years old when I went to their academy and promoted to a professional player and trainer.
“I spent most of my life there. I know the people there, most of the players are still there. The emotion is there.”
Guardiola’s methods at City are starting to take shape but one of the biggest surprises so far has been the form of Aleksandar Kolarov in an unfamiliar role at centre-back.
With Vincent Kompany injured and Eliaquim Mangala out of favour, the Serbia left-back has been pressed into action in the middle.
Guardiola said: “I know he is a left-back but how he played against Sunderland and against Bucharest, it is hard to find a centre-back better than him.
“He’s strong in the air, he passes between the lines or long balls to the other side for the right winger, so he has absolutely everything to play in that position. I’m delighted.”