Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola may yet be stuck with Willy Caballero as his new number one goalkeeper, after signalling the end of England stopper Joe Hart’s Etihad career by dropping the 29-year-old ahead of the 9/4 Premier League title favourites’ 2-1 opening-day win over Sunderland.
The Shrewsbury native’s demotion has been a long time coming, with Caballero brought in by old boss Manuel Pellegrini two years ago and thrown into the action for a 3-0 Community Shield loss to Arsenal a month later, leading to Hart’s recall.
As Guardiola has realised quickly, Hart is a commanding presence in the box, but his distribution leaves a lot to be desired, with just 52.6% of his Premier League passes finding a teammate last term, which was up from 47.6% the previous season, according to WhoScored.com.
By contrast, Caballero found fellow City players with 80% of his passes against the Black Cats, but Guardiola clearly isn’t set on the uncapped Argentine either, with the two-time Champions League-winning coach shopping at old club Barcelona for a new custodian.
Rumours of a move for Los Blaugrana’s de facto reserve keeper, 24-year-old Germany international Marc-Andre ter Stegen, have swirled around for weeks, so reports that Barca had accepted a bid for number one Claudio Bravo were met with some surprise.
However, that switch is now in jeopardy following an injury to Ter Stegen, who is thought to be sidelined for three weeks, although the Chile international’s move to Manchester is still expected to go through before the transfer window closes at the end of August.
If further complications eventually kybosh Guardiola’s best laid plans, the 45-year-old’s next move should be attempting to recall Argentina’s Olympics keeper Geronimo Rulli from his loan spell at Real Sociedad.
The 24-year-old’s La Liga pass completion rate may not look like much to write home about at an average of 58.5% last term, but that’s better than Bravo managed in any of his four seasons at the same club between 2010 and 2014.
At the same age as Ter Stegen, Rulli may well be ready for the big time and could save his employers a fortune.