After impressive performances in recent weeks, it was almost inevitable that it was only going to be a matter of time before rumours of Joe Hart’s future at Manchester City surfaced. And so it was no surprise this weekend when reports in Spain stated that Jose Mourinho will turn his attentions towards the Man City keeper over the coming months as a natural heir to Iker Casillas.
It is plainly obvious why Hart would appeal to Mourinho, indeed any manager for that matter. The keeper has gone from strength to strength this season, and his already stellar reputation has risen further with a string of fine displays that have kept an under performing City well in contention both domestically and in Europe.
Most specifically, his heroics against Dortmund single handedly earned Man City a scarcely deserved point courtesy of a list of fine saves and a last minute Balotelli penalty. Likewise, he also impressed in the Bernabau during Man City’s Champions League opener and this performance no doubt caught the attention of Mourinho.
Hart is quickly cementing himself as one of the top goalkeepers in the world, and is England’s automatic first choice starter between the sticks, giving himself experience at the very highest level of football. At the age of 25, Hart’s career as a keeper is still in the early stages, another appealing factor that Mourinho will have in mind. But is this move actually likely to happen?
In truth, it is tough to see Hart moving away from the Etihad for the immediate future. He is adored at Man City and like with England, Hart is unrivaled as first choice. So long as he remains as the number one for his club, you would presume he would remain number one for his country, every goalkeeper’s ideal scenario. Moving to Madrid would jeapordise this situation.
With Iker Casillas still firmly in the Real Madrid set up, Hart would be placed in direct competition with Casillas, and would be unlikely to come out on top in the early stages. It would represent a similar scenario to the one currently overshadowing Tottenham, where the younger Hugo Lloris is finding it tough to dislodge the more experienced Brad Friedel. At 31, Casillas may be getting on a bit, but he still has another few years service left in him, especially when you consider that the aforementioned Friedel is still impressing at the age of 41.
Admittedly, a long term replacement for Casillas will eventually be required, and at this point, a move for Hart makes more sense both for Madrid and for Hart himself. But until this point arrives, neither Hart nor Casillas would be satisfied as being limited to the role as a bench warmer, so it would be unfeasible and unnecessary to have both on the books at the same time.
Joe Hart is a goalkeeper who has everything going for him at present, and as tempting as the lure of Madrid would be, I just can’t see Hart playing for anyone else for the next few years. Real may do better looking for alternatives elsewhere until Casillas is ready to hang up his gloves for good.