As Claudio Bravo joins Manchester City, who is the better 'keeper, Bravo or Hart?
Did Pep Guardiola make the right choice?
By his own high standards, Joe Hart has not been in great form over recent months. As a goalkeeper, any mistake you make is magnified. A mistake made by a goalkeeper will usually lead to a goal after all and the 29-year-old has made gaffes over recent months which have led to costly goals.
Hart had a disappointing Euro 2016 with England and made an error which led to a goal having come on as a substitute at half-time in a 3-2 loss to Arsenal in their final preseason game leading new Manchester City manager to start Hart on the bench for their opening Premier League game of the 2016-‘17 season, a 2-1 home win over Sunderland as well as Saturday’s 4-1 victory away win over Stoke City.
There is little doubt that Hart is still a high quality ‘keeper. He played an important role in both of Manchester City’s Premier League title wins. His performances have been such that he has won the Premier League Golden Glove award four of the last six seasons (not last season though) and has been voted onto the PFA Premier League Team of the Year twice, the last time being 2011-‘12.
Top flight football is not a game for sentiment however and new Citizens manager Pep Guardiola appears to not fancy Hart as his first choice shot stopper. Everton manager Ronald Koeman has been answering questions about the club’s reported interest in Hart, despite the fact that Everton’s current custodian Maarten Stekelenburg had a good game against Spurs at the weekend in a 1-1 draw.
Koeman has been slow to discuss the rumours but finally put an end to all links, stating earlier this week that they were not interested in the England international. This leaves Hart is an even murkier position.
Hart still wants to be playing first team football and to be the first choice at a big club. If he can’t get that at Manchester City, he is almost certain to move elsewhere.
Here I will compare and contrast Joe Hart and Claudio Bravo and ascertain who is performing at – and likely to perform in the future at – a higher level.
Guardiola is a manager who wants a goalkeeper who is comfortable on the ball and ideally one who is able to distribute the ball with both feet. Bravo has completed 76% of 1,694 passes over the last three seasons compared with a 52% pass completion rate (from 1,241 passes attempted) by Hart. This stat shows that Bravo is clearly more comfortable than Hart with the ball at his feet.
Guardiola wants a goalkeeper who plays for him to play short passes to his defenders. Hart’s average pass length is 43 metres compared to 27m from Guardiola’s goalkeeper at Bayern Munich, (Manuel Neuer) last season. Bravo’s passing length average is 35m. While making shorter passes isn’t very difficult, Hart is much more familiar with (and more comfortable with) getting the ball from back to front a lot quicker than Guardiola would desire.
BRAVO 1-0 HART
This is another important area where Bravo seems to be well in front of Hart. Last season Bravo conceded just 22 goals but came up with 68 saves. Hart meanwhile conceded 36 goals whilst managing 67 saves. Over the last three seasons, Bravo has made 2.93 saves per goal conceded whilst Hart has managed 1.96 saves for every ball that has gone into his net.
Joe Hart is rightly seen as one of England’s best shot-stoppers over recent years, but when compared to European and world class goalkeepers, Hart’s statistics don’t look as favorable.
BRAVO 2-0 HART
Almost out of the blue, mistakes have started to slip into Hart’s game over the last season or so. He made four mistakes that caused goals against City last season and two goals he conceded whilst playing for England at Euro 2016 (including the goal that knocked them out against Iceland, a shot which should have yielded a relatively comfortable save) were his fault.
Over the last three seasons, Bravo has made at most five errors that have led to goals. If City are to challenge for the Premier League and to reach the late stages of the Champions League they will need a very reliable goalkeeper. It is reasonable to suggest that Hart is not that man anymore.
BRAVO 3-0 HART
Joe Hart is still a very good shot stopper but modern football dictates that goalkeepers need to be comfortable with the ball at their feet and that is doubly true of a goalkeeper who plays for Pep Guardiola. In truth, if things continue the way they are, in time goalkeepers will likely need to be as comfortable on the ball as midfielders or strikers are now.
One factor that might go against Claudio Bravo is that he is 33 years-old, but that is still quite young for a goalkeeper and injuries permitting, the Chilean could have half a decade of top level football still in him.
If Guardiola sells Hart, The Sky Blues also expected to bag a great profit coming out of the difference from the two deals. In turn, Hart will likely find himself first choice football at another club.