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Joe Hart is free to leave if he wants to, says Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will not stand in Joe Hart's way if the out-of-favour goalkeeper decides to leave the club, he said on Friday.

Joe Hart is free to leave if he wants to, says Guardiola
ROBERT GHEMENT EFE

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will not stand in Joe Hart's way if the out-of-favour goalkeeper decides to leave the club, he said on Friday.

Guardiola has left Hart on the bench for City's first two games of the season, with Willy Caballero starting instead, and is reportedly close to signing Claudio Bravo from his former club Barcelona - although Barça coach Luis Enrique was less forthcoming about the situation when he spoke with the media earlier this morning.

The 29-year-old has been linked with Everton and Sevilla and while Guardiola has spent the summer looking for a goalkeeper to suit his standards, he is happy for Hart to stay and fight for his place, he accepts that he will not be able to keep the England international against his will. Asked if the keeper can leave the club if he wants to, Guardiola told reporters at the City Football Academy training complex: “Yes, of course. I want happiness for the players. I don't want the players to stay here if they don't want to stay. All the players here have a contract. They decide their future because they have a contract. If they want to stay, stay, and we will fight together.

“If they want to leave because they prefer to play every game -- not speaking about Joe, speaking about all the players in the squad - I want to live and work with the players who want to stay”, he explained.

Hart has been City's first-choice goalkeeper for the past six seasons, contributing to two Premier League title wins, two League Cup successes and their 2011 FA Cup triumph. But he had a poor EURO 2016 for England and was at fault for goals in their group-stage win over Wales and Last 16 defeat by Iceland. Guardiola was speaking ahead of his side's trip to Stoke City in the Premier League on Saturday.