The Race to be No.1

There has been much speculation in media outlets during the last several days concerning who will possess the goalkeeping gloves at Manchester City next season. Here are the latest rumours together with an evaluation of the likelihood of any movement.

Ederson (Benfica)

The clear favourite for the number one role next season is Ederson Moraes of Benfica and not just because of his choice of social media ‘likes’. The Sun, the Manchester Evening News and Metro are all strongly asserting that the Brazilian under-23 star is more or less a done deal. City allegedly had a 19 million bid rejected last May but are believed to have a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ on a deal according to The Record and are negotiating at a figure between 30 million and the player’s buy-out figure of approximately 39 million GBP.

Pep is believed to have made another one of those deal-making phone calls to the player according to Portuguese paper A Bola and the only obstacle in the deal is believed to be that former club Rio Ave possess 50% of the economic rights involved. Discussions are believed to be at an advanced stage.

Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan)

According to The Independent, the young Italian stopper has stalled on a new contract with AC Milan. As his current contract expires in 2018,  this has naturally led to speculation linking him with several European giants but particularly those who would have the ability to fork out a transfer fee which would undoubtedly pass the 100 million mark.

Chief among the rumours is conjecture that Manchester City are prepared to step up. The sky high numbers involved reflect the fact that at a mere 17 years old, Donnarumma could give any buying club a decade or more of top class service. The Milan newspaper Il Giornale claim that the player’s agent Mino Raiola is counselling his client to wait until Milan’s proposed takeover is finalised. If this is achieved then Milan may be in a position to match any offer from overseas  – of which Raiola would of course get his cut.

Chelsea would also reportedly be in the frame for Donnarumma not only because of Antonio Conte‘s Italian connections but also because of reports linking Thibaut Courtois with a move to Real Madrid, however Juventus would seem by many to be the most logical move – as a replacement for aging legend Gianluigi Buffon. Whether either of these could afford the transfer fee is questionable.

Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona)

It seems that reports linking Ter Stegen to City will just not die. The Daily Mail believe that Guardiola has not given up on the player widely believed to have been his first choice to replace Joe Hart, before reluctantly settling for Claudio Bravo. A 30 million bid is judged to be in the pipeline should Barcelona give any encouragement to the deal. Ahead of City’s second leg Champions League match against Barcelona, Guardiola confessed:

‘As for Ter Stegen I knew that he wanted to play all the time. We got in touch. He wasn’t happy with his situation. We needed a goalkeeper like Claudio or Ter Stegen. Claudio came and Ter Stegen decided to stay.’

Claudio Bravo

The Chilean’s own stance is of being prepared to fight for his place at City. Bravo is quoted as saying:

“I am the first person to take notice when I am not playing well, or when someone scores a goal on me or when I am not playing up to my level. But when people start to say that Claudio Bravo is no good, when they start to take bets about when I will be traded, when they start to talk about how we are looking for another goalkeeper or say that the same thing happens in every match, well I have learned how to deal with all that. I take all that like a challenge and it makes me want to demonstrate why I have lasted so many years on the national team and why I have been a leader on our team and why we have been the most successful national team in Chile over the past 100 years.”

However it is believed that Guardiola has privately admitted that Bravo has failed to settle and would be a better fit elsewhere. Spanish paper AS claim that one such possible exit route would be to Villareal following the loss of their keeper Sergio Asenjo to a 7-month injury lay-off. CityWatch determine that this would be complicated by the need for the Blues to subsidise Bravo’s high wage.

Joe Hart

No one doubts that Hart has been deemed surplus to requirements at City, including the player himself:

“I’d say I’m pretty much surplus to requirements at my parent club at the moment. I want to play football, I love to play football. If that opportunity’s not going to be given there then I’m going to have to look elsewhere and I may have to make somewhere else my home. I don’t know where my future lies, in terms of time-wise, because I’ve certainly had no communication with anyone.”

The latest media reports claim that Liverpool are best fitted to be Hart’s new club with both Ray Wilkins and Ray Parlour making the case in recent days. However Liverpool fans will certainly not be impressed with Parlour’s reasoning, i.e. that they are not a top club and that Hart is at their level.

Wilkins was more generous, citing Hart’s performance against Germany: “If I was Klopp I would certainly be going for him. The save he made last night down to his left hand side was absolutely superb.”

The Express have claimed that the Reds have approached the Blues over a deal for Hart however Liverpool fans may not be convinced – Karl Matchett at demonstrating quite convincingly that Hart’s susceptibility to shots from range to his left side is as big a weakness, if not bigger than his distribution skills:

“Hart has always been fallible to that side, for England and City alike. It has been mentioned before. At Torino this season? From 38 conceded, a remarkable 34 percent have been struck low to Hart’s left side (not including penalties).”

Willy Caballero

Having usurped Bravo in City’s starting eleven, Willy Caballero‘s ambitions may have expanded to the hope of securing an extension to his contract which expires at the end of the season. Despite his shock at Hart’s removal from the squad and his unflinching support for the much maligned Bravo, Caballero is not so sentimental that he does not have designs on a future with City. He certainly has earned the opportunity during the remainder of this season but most feel that this is unlikely to continue as No.1. Would Caballero be willing to extend his contract as the No.2? If so, it is likely that due to his performances this season and his positive attitude, an extension will be granted.

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