MANCHESTER — Manchester City’s Joe Hart has been told he can leave the club if he requests a move, but boss Pep Guardiola says that if he stays he will help him to improve and become the goalkeeper he wants.
England international Hart has been left out for City’s first two games of the season — the Premier League opener against Sunderland and the Champions League victory over Steaua Bucharest.
Guardiola wants a shot-stopper who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and has preferred Hart’s teammate Willy Caballero in the opening two matches of the season.
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The Spaniard denied that Hart had asked to leave and said he was clear with the keeper about what he wants from his No. 1.
Asked if he would be open to letting Hart leave if he requested a move, Guardiola said: “Yes, of course. I want happiness for the players so I don’t want the players to stay here if they don’t want to stay.
“All the players here have a contract. If they decide they want to stay they are going to stay. But they know the situation because I spoke with them. If they want to stay the can stay and we fight together.
“I spoke with Joe from the first moment we met in China. I try to be clear with my players and I was so clear with him. So I have a lot respect about him. I know his values, I know his talent and I was clear what I was looking for.”
City have been linked with a move for Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo as a replacement.
However, Guardiola says he is aware of Hart’s quality and added that if he remains at the club he will help him to become better.
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“If he stay he is going to improve,” Guardiola said. “He’s going to understand what we want or what we want now from a goalkeeper.
“I met a lot of players in the beginning who had their problems — I’m not just talking about goalkeepers. And after two months, three months, half a year, one year, they became one of the best players in that position.
“So that can happen. But when Willy plays right now in that situation it’s better. Today but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to [change] in the future.
“They have decide do you want to stay or do you want to leave. If he stays here I want to help him. And after every week I’m going to decide [who plays].”
Caballero is likely to continue in goal for Saturday’s game against Stoke City with Hart expected to remain on the bench.