Friday 28 October 2016

Pep Guardiola insists he has a good relationship with Joe Hart

Published 23/08/2016 | 15:01

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, left, spoke to goalkeeper Joe Hart during training
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, left, spoke to goalkeeper Joe Hart during training

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola maintains he has a good relationship with axed goalkeeper Joe Hart.

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The England number one's future at the Etihad Stadium is uncertain after losing his place in the City side and with the club apparently closing in on Barcelona's Claudio Bravo.

The pair were seen in deep conversation as City trained in front of media ahead of Wednesday's Champions League play-off second leg against Steaua Bucharest.

Because Hart then walked off the training pitch immediately after the pair spoke, footage has given the impression to some they may not get on.

But that is misleading as Hart and his fellow goalkeepers were due to train on a separate pitch further away from cameras and Guardiola has insisted there was nothing untoward in their discussions.

Speaking at a press conference, Guardiola said: "I have an excellent relationship with Joe. We were clear, him with me and I with him, and we spoke about our football."

Guardiola even insists he has not ruled out the possibility of Hart featuring against Steaua, a game which City will begin with a 5-0 aggregate lead.

"He has a chance to play tomorrow," said Guardiola. "I have said many times, he is a player of us."

Guardiola, however, would not deny that Bravo is poised to join City in the coming days.

The Chile international was pictured at the airport in Barcelona on Tuesday, and later shown arriving at Manchester Airport.

Barca confirmed last week the two clubs were in negotiations and reports have suggested a deal for the 33-year-old could cost City around £17million.

Guardiola said: "I cannot deny what everybody knows. Barcelona were the first ones who announced contact with Manchester City but, sorry, the deal is not complete. After that I will be open to answer questions but in this moment he is not our player."

With Willy Caballero having so far been preferred in goal so far this season, the likely arrival of Bravo could effectively relegate Hart to third choice.

Speculation Hart could leave City before next week's transfer deadline is intensifying although Everton's apparent interest has reportedly cooled. Sevilla have also been linked with the 29-year-old but Guardiola claims he is not aware of any approaches.

He said: "I am not able to speak (about that) because I do not know what is going on."

The ruthless decisions to drop Hart and another club linchpin, Yaya Toure, has detracted a little from City's winning start to the season.

Guardiola has overseen victories in his opening three games and progress to the Champions League stage should be confirmed on Wednesday, with last week's convincing success in Romania leaving the second leg little more than a formality.

Guardiola is not looking at the game that way, however, and is demanding maximum commitment from his players.

He said: "I will make some rotations. I don't know how many, they all deserve to play and I am so confident about all the players.

"But I have a lot of respect for the opponent and I know what happens in football. Everybody knows it's not done until it's done.

"I have seen many times in the Champions League - at half-time an experienced team like AC Milan were 3-0 ahead and the final was done, but Liverpool won the Champions League final.

"I don't like to play the game when people say it's easy and it's finished. No, a lot can happen."

Press Association

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