Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is reportedly eyeing a move for Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper Rui Patricio ahead of the transfer window deadline later this month.
The Spanish tactician caused a stir on Saturday after he left Joe Hart out of his starting line-up for their Premier League season-opener against Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium.
Although back-up option Willy Caballero got the nod, it isn’t expected that he will remain the first choice shot-stopper for the remainder of the season, with the Daily Record reporting that Guardiola has Patricio in mind.
The report adds that the Portuguese international would be a much cheaper option compared to City’s primary target Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who could cost anything up to €80m, as per the release clause in his contract.
In turn, it’s claimed that Guardiola could switch his attention to Patricio, with the 28-year-old having a €45m release clause in his contract with Sporting.
The City boss has given no indication that he is unhappy with Hart’s talents, application or mentality, but as feared when he first took the job, the England international doesn’t have the ability to play out from the back that Guardiola places a great importance on.
Coupled with his developing habit of losing focus and making key mistakes in games that his side are essentially dominating, it doesn’t paint a positive picture for the 29-year-old despite his continued presence in the City line-up for almost a decade.
While Guardiola appears to be throwing his support behind Hart despite the snub this weekend, the pressure is certainly on the City shot-stopper to prove that he can develop the characteristics that his manager is looking for otherwise he may well be forced to step aside.