Claudio Bravo has big boots to fill in Manchester City’s goal

Pep Guardiola has wasted no time in shaking up the Manchester City squad with a number of new faces arriving at the Etihad Stadium over the summer.

Ilkay Gundogan, Nolito, John Stones, Leroy Sane and Claudio Bravo have all been brought in the freshen up a club that is one of the Premier League title favourites with most betting sites.

Meanwhile, long-term first choice goalkeeper Joe Hart is set to complete a loan move to Torino, while Wilfried Bony and Samir Nasri could also be finalising temporary moves before the transfer window closes.

 

It is the treatment of Hart by Guardiola that has divided City fans over the past few weeks, and made it critical for his replacement Bravo to hit the ground running.

Guardiola made it no secret that he wanted a goalkeeper who is comfortable with the ball at his feet, in the mould of Victor Valdes and Manuel Neuer who he worked with at FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively.

Unfortunately for Hart, his distribution has always been a weak point and the stats back it up – for the 2015/16 season, Hart’s pass completion rate was just 59%, well below Bravo’s impressive 85%.

While Bravo split time with Marc-Andre ter Stegen over the last couple of seasons at the Camp Nou, he still managed to claim the La Liga title and the Copa del Rey twice each while between the posts.

He was also an influential figure for his national side Chile as they claimed the Copa America in 2015 and this year’s Copa America Centenario in the United States.

Claudio is a fantastic goalkeeper and an excellent addition to our squad.

 

He has experience and great leadership qualities and is in the prime of his life. He is a goalkeeper I have admired for a number of years and I’m really happy he is now a City player.

– Pep Guardiola

While it’s hard to question Bravo’s credentials and pedigree, he has a long way to go to win over a proportion of the City supporters who remain firmly in the Joe Hart camp.

The 29-year-old is one of the last remaining figures at City from before the Abu Dhabi regime having moved to the club from Shrewsbury Town for just £100,000 back in 2006.

After initially getting some exposure to first team football, Hart was displaced as the club’s number one by Republic of Ireland international Shay Given and he spent the 2009/10 campaign on loan at Birmingham City.

Having been voted Birmingham’s Player of the Year and picking up a nomination for the PFA’s Young Player of the Year award, Hart returned to Manchester and became first choice.

 

Over the next few seasons he performed very well for the most part, with the odd clanger thrown in, as City ended a 35-year trophy drought with an FA Cup win in 2011, closely followed by two Premier League titles.

Hart became a leading figure in the dressing room, and there are suggestions that his demeanour is part of the reason why Guardiola has decided to make a change.

The Spaniard did something similar with Ronaldinho and Deco upon taking over at Barcelona and promptly won the treble in his first season.

All is not lost for Hart though as his move to Torino will only be until the end of the season and, should he make some adjustments to his game, there is a chance that he can resurrect his City career in 2017.

For now though, all focus switches to Bravo who will take over from Willy Caballero sooner rather than later, possibly just in time for the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford on August 11.

It will be a huge baptism of fire for the Chilean if he does get the nod but what better way to endear yourself to a new set of supporters than by keeping out their biggest rivals?

Author Details

Neil Sherwin
Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com. Writes mostly on Premier League, A-League and MLS with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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