The Manchester City boss says his goalkeeper has not made a transfer request, but admits he would not stand in his way if he wanted to leave.
Pep Guardiola says he will allow Joe Hart to leave Manchester City this summer if the goalkeeper asks for a move.
Hart has found himself on the sidelines so far this season, with Willy Caballero preferred in goal for the games against Sunderland and Steaua Bucharest.
Goal understands City will soon clinch the signing of Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, and that Hart is keen to leave after a difficult start to life under the new manager.
And Guardiola says he would allow the England No.1 to go if he came and requested a transfer, although he did insist he will improve if he decides to stay.
“Yes of course,” he said at a press conference. “I want happiness for the players, I dont want them to stay here if they don’t want to stay.
“All the players here have a contract, if they decide they are going to stay they are going to stay. But they know the situation when I spoke with them. The situation, I spoke individually with them, so they know exactly what the situation is.
“I don’t know if the players are not happy here, or if they want to stay. They decide the future because they have the contract. If they want to stay, they will stay. We will fight together to achieve, if they want to leave because they prefer to play every game… but I’m not speaking about Joe, speaking about all the players at the club.
“There is no doubt about that.”
Guardiola spoke at length about the Hart situation, explaining why he has been left out of the opening games and how he can improve in the future, but in highlighting that he was brought to the Etihad Stadium to deploy his vaunted gameplan, it is yet another clear sign that the England No.1 just does not fit into his plans.
“I was clear with what I was looking for. I am here at Manchester City because they contacted me to play the way I like, the way I grew up from 13-14 years old, and I am here to try to convince the players.
“Up until the 31st of this month everything is open with the people who are coming and the people who are leaving.
“In September I will know exactly which people are going to live together, fight together, enjoy together, to discuss together all the situations that are going to happen during the season.
“Maybe Joe will stay here and be a player who will fight with the other goalkeepers to convince me to play [him]. It’s simple like that. He knows from the beginning what I feel and what is the situation.
“After that I know he may be staying, he may be leaving, the same case for other players. That’s what it is.
“Nothing has changed.”
Although Hart’s chances of winning his place back would appear especially slim if Bravo completes his move as expected, and the Guardiola has suggested he simply is not suitable, the Catalan admits it is possible that he can stay and improve, citing the example of Eric Abidal.
“I said to him in the first moment: If he stays, he’s going to improve,” he added.
“He’s going to understand what we want, what we want from our goalkeeper. I met a lot of players at the beginning who had their problems – I’m not talking about the goalkeepers – they had their problems at the beginning, but after one month, two months, six months, one year, they became one of the best players in that position. That can happen.
“But when Willy played those two games, right now, in that situation, [it is because] he is better. Today. But that doesn’t mean it [can’t change] in the future. They have to decide if they want to stay or if they want to leave. If he wants to stay here I want to help him, after every week I am going to decide.
“An example: I met Abidal, the left-back from Barcelona, and in the beginning, the way we played, he had a problem. And at the end, he became the best left central defender in Europe, in my opinion. Fast, intelligent, strong in the air, in the build-up he was a masterclass.
“But he took time, in the beginning he was not the best, as we demanded. We demand of a central defender and goalkeeper that they have to play. They don’t only have to defend. They have to defend, and they have to play. And the goalkeeper, the first thing they are looking for, is to be safe, to keep the ball. For me it’s the most important thing, but after, it’s to play with the ball, they have to help us to create a good build-up. That’s why I’m here.
“And in the future, of course [Hart] can do that, but now in this moment, because Willy was in the whole pre-season, he was two or three weeks more than Joe because he was on holidays after the European Cup, and because I saw so many things, in those games I decided to play with Willy, but it doesn’t mean that Willy is going to play all the season, it doesn’t mean that Joe isn’t going to play.
“That I explained to Joe in China. I try to be clear with my players. I know Joe’s quality, I have a lot of respect, it’s not an easy decision for me to say now you don’t play, and I’ll play Willy, but I was clear what I’m looking for, to help us. We are not an academy where you have time. Here we have time, but not a lot of time. We won 5-0 at Bucharest and everybody says you are very good, but before you never know what is going to happen. Now in the big teams you don’t give me time to create something, people don’t have patience in that level, people have results now, immediately.
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