Joe Hart has admitted he has no idea where he will be playing his club football next season with no firm offers having been lodged for his services, but is confident Manchester City will not price him out of the market as he seeks a fresh start this summer.
The England goalkeeper, who will sit out the friendly fixture against France in Paris on Tuesday with Gareth Southgate expected to offer Jack Butland a first appearance in 15 months, was a high-profile early victim of Pep Guardiola’s tenure at the Etihad Stadium and has just completed a season-long loan at Torino in Serie A. The Italian club are not seeking to make that transfer permanent, with the coach, Sinisa Mihajlovic, suggesting they cannot afford Hart’s £110,000-a-week wages, but Hart has not spoken personally to anyone at City since rejoining the ranks.
The club have since signed the uncapped Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson from Benfica for £35m to leave Hart in no doubt that he has no future at the club he joined 11 years ago. No clubs have crystallised their interest as yet, and it may be that Hart has to accept an opportunity outside the elite bracket, and potentially a pay cut, at the likes of West Ham United, Everton, Newcastle United or Crystal Palace if he is to secure a move to another Premier League side.
“Something’s going to happen, one way or another, but it’s almost in the hands of the businessmen now,” he said. “They have obviously signed the new keeper, and I get the direction [in which they are moving]. There is no real need for me to talk to them. I’m lucky enough to have management who deal with that side of things. I think they spoke to my agent. There is no animosity between the two teams; they are going about their business, and we are going to go about ours.
“Look, I would love to give you a poker-straight answer as to where I’ll be next season, but I’ve got nothing at the moment. I’d love to be ‘withholding information’ about my future, but I don’t have the information to withhold. People are focused on international duty and respecting that players are focused on international duty. Come Tuesday night, after that is when conversations can be had and people can start being real. My personal situation is interesting, and patience is going to have to be the key.”
City have now spent more than £50m on Ederson and Claudio Bravo since Guardiola determined Hart’s distribution from the back was not of the standard he required, and that pair are now competing for the No1 jersey at the Etihad. Asked if he knew what the club’s asking price for him would be, Hart said: “I don’t know exactly. It’s hard to say what is ‘realistic’. Football is a business, at the end of the day. You can’t judge, realistically. The millions and zillions of pounds that get paid for someone to come and play football for you, in the real world, is strange. In the business world, the football world, it’s not.
“But I certainly don’t think they are going to try and price me out of a move. I think there’s enough respect between the player and club to work together. There’s no point in working against [each other]. There is no animosity between the two. They are going in their direction and I need to go in mine. It’s about what is considered to be market value and what gets agreed between the two clubs.”
Yet Hart, who kept five clean sheets in 36 games for Torino and was criticised by the club president, Urbano Cairo, who claimed to have been “surprised” at the number of mistakes the goalkeeper made, has conceded his departure will have to be on a permanent move. “If the switch is what needs to happen, and that’s key, then we all need stability in our life,” he said. “I’m not a kid any more. I can’t just pack my stuff, like a 17 or 19-year-old, and go on loan. I am a 30-year-old man with stuff I need to organise. I like stability.”
“There is an ideal situation to come out of this but nothing is perfect. It’s a short career and football is crazy, so I have to be prepared for anything. I just want to play football. I love football. It’s what I live and breathe, and I want to play football at the highest possible level I can play. That’s the plan.”
The England goalkeeper was beaten by two late Leigh Griffiths free-kicks at Hampden Park on Saturday, before Harry Kane salvaged a point in stoppage time, and his absence at the Stade de France will be one of a number of changes to Southgate’s side. Butland has not represented his country since fracturing his ankle in a friendly win in Germany in March 2016 and is likely to start, with Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton also in the squad.
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