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Could Manchester City regret releasing one of their most loyal sons?

Wednesday 29th March 2017
The problems at Manchester City this season have been very well documented, with Pep Guardiola finding the Premier League a difficult place to secure consistent results from a team that is under-achieving once again this campaign.

The defence has been a shambles, with Guardiola employing full-backs and centre-midfielders as centre-backs in a makeshift back line that does not need to be so haphazard.

Up front, talisman Sergio Aguero has too often been made a scapegoat and it seems to be stunting his on-pitch performances, as he is not as free scoring as the fans have come to expect.

Their goalkeeping problems are also laughable, too, with Guardiola choosing to bring in Claudio Bravo for his footwork, after moving Joe Hart on for the same reason. However, the former has seemed incapable of saving anything, meaning Guardiola is better off playing him as one of his centre-backs.

The goalkeeping crisis may yet prove to be Guardiola's biggest mistake too. First of all, the problem is all of his own making. He could have brought Bravo in and told Hart that he should stay and fight for his place, meaning that if the goalkeeper were to leave then it would have been Hart wanting to leave instead of being pushed out.

It seems as though this was not the case, though, with one of the most popular players at Manchester City cast aside. This would have angered many City fans, with the goalkeeper a bastion of their title-winning sides of the past.

However, Guardiola is not one of the best managers of his generation for nothing, therefore most would have assumed it was a necessary move. After 28 games, though, City have conceded 30 goals, with Bravo dropped to the bench and Willy Caballero ascending to the number one spot.

The fact that the man Guardiola earmarked as his next number one is now on the bench following a string of poor performances is very telling.

For Hart, he has been playing regularly in Italy with Torino. While he has conceded 48 goals this season, it does not tell the full story. The Italian side are a mid-table team at best, and Hart has been regularly tested with very few mistakes of note. Some goals are unstoppable, while others spring from mistakes from teammates or moments of magic from the opposition and so cannot be helped.

Hart was once again in good form for England during the international break, captaining the side against Lithuania and producing a very smart save to deny Leroy Sane in the friendly against Germany. It seems then that some time in Italy has not hurt Hart's ability.

However, this time with Torino will surely only go on until the end of the season. Following that, who knows where the goalkeeper will go.

It seems as though his time at Manchester City is at an end, and Hart may even prefer a move abroad after sampling European football. However, if he is to return to the Premier League with a different team, it could prove very costly for City.

Liverpool, Everton and West Ham have all been linked with the player, and they would become markedly better sides for his signature. Liverpool, in particular, would benefit, with Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius doing everything but convincing their fans this year.

For City, their goalkeeping problems would be made that much worse if Hart were to become part of a Liverpool side that had a solid defence, and it would make things even worse if the Reds went on to finish above City, with Liverpool beaten City quite often in recent years.

Hart's time away will have only made him better, and if Liverpool can snare the England goalkeeper along with a new centre-back partnership, then Hart could be a part of a Premier League winning side again.
Ben Darvill

I graduated with an upper second class degree in English and Creative writing from Cardiff Metropolitan University. I have been a freelance sports writer since leaving University and have written for a number of online websites. I am a Chelsea and England fan but I enjoy watching any team play as I have an intense passion for football.

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