For the first time in Joe Hart's Manchester City career, there is a genuine threat that the England international could be forced out of the Etihad, as new boss Pep Guardiola looks to bring in his own no.1 between the sticks.
The 29-year-old had to watch City's opening day 2-1 victory over Sunderland from the bench, as Guardiola selected Argentine goalkeeper Willy Caballero to take his position. And Hart could now be looking for a new club, unless he can change the Spaniard's mind.
As reported by The Mirror, Guardiola refused to give Hart any reassurances that he has a future at City, saying after Saturday's match: "Joe is a goalkeeper and with a goalkeeper I talk to him and said, 'Here is the ball at your feet', and about what he has to do, rather than what he has to do with his hands.
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"We have [goalkeeper coach] Xabi Mancisidor for that. So we have had a chat.
"He's comfortable [on the ball]. He has quality and he can do that - with time. I'm not saying he's unable to do it. Maybe there are other goalkeepers with more quality at that. But Joe, with training, he can do it - with time. But his time is now. It's not about what happens in six months, seven months."
Guardiola had no hesitation in selecting Caballero, who had made just five Premier League appearances prior to the Sunderland fixture, ahead of City's long-term no.1 choice. And more damaging news has followed, with the former Barcelona boss reportedly targeting Sporting's Rui Patricio as Hart's full-time successor.
The Spaniard has consistently built teams with goalkeepers who excel with the ball at their feet, however, throughout Hart's stint in the Premier League, he has never worked under a manager who has had such demands. And that is a big cause for concern about his long-term future at City.
City to axe Hart
It is understood that City gave Guardiola reassurances about their backing of their new boss in the transfer market, and although having been a long-serving member for the Citizens, they will have no hesitation in replacing him, if that is what the boss demands.
And Patricio is now the leading candidate for the role, after first-choice Marc-Andre ter Stegen damaged a knee ligament in a training session with Barcelona, on Thursday. The Portugal international, who helped his nation win the European Championships this summer, has a release clause of £38.8 million - over £31 million less than that of Ter Stegen.
Patricio's big move
The German's high price tag and Barcelona's unwillingness to sell, along with Patricio's lower wage demands, have handed the Portuguese shot stopper the chance to end his career-long stay with Sporting and make a move to one of Europe's elite leagues.
However, Ronald Koeman will provide City with some competition for his signature, as he looks to take Patricio to Merseyside in what has been a big summer of transfer business for Everton in the transfer window so far, and looks set to continue.
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