Newstalk
Newstalk

14.02 11 Aug 2014


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"Joe finished last season playing well. We will see next Sunday who starts at Newcastle."

Joe Hart had a pretty mixed time of it last season and if Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is to be believed, he has some worrying to do about his status as the club's No 1 following the purchase of Willy Caballero from Malaga.

In truth, it's not a bad headache to have from a manager's perspective, given that fierce competition keeps both goalkeepers on their toes.

But a look at some of the other top clubs across Europe seems to throw up a situation where a number of top goalkeepers could conceivably be consigned to the bench for long stretches, provided their transfer situations remain static between now and the end of the window.

Belgium No 1 Thibaut Courtois had shone at Atletico Madrid over the past three seasons, while remaining on Chelsea's books and with the 22-year-old starting to consider his options this summer, Jose Mourinho decided to tie one of the best young goalkeepers in the world to Stamford Bridge.

The only issue is that long-time No 1 Petr Cech is still at Chelsea and presumably would not take kindly to being left on the bench after a decade of mostly stellar service.

Could he accept being a No 2 over the coming season? Rumours abound that he will leave the club before the end of ther transfer window and one suggestion is that the Blues will offer him to Real Madrid.

But the Champions League winners already have Spain's World Cup-winning keeper Iker Casillas and Costa Rica's World Cup hero Keylor Navas. Already on the verge of selling Diego Lopez to Milan - he was last season's starting goalkeeper in La Liga - it is hard to imagine that they would undermine the admittedly out-of-shape Casillas for a second season in a row by bringing a third top level goalkeeper into their squad.

The Spanish media published this video of Casillas not looking up to speed in training - in comparison to Navas and Lopez

Arsenal, too, have a relatively strong duopoly between the stick with Colombia's David Ospina set to challenge Wojciech Szczesney, while Bayern Munich have drafted in long-time Liverpool No 1 Pepe Reina to apparently be an understudy to Manuel Neuer. Given that Neuer is probably the best goalkeeper in the world at present, Reina's decision to join the German giants is a little strange, unless regular first team football is not his main priority!  

But from Arsenal and Real Madrid's point of view, there is likely to be less friction given that Navas and Ospina signed in full knowledge that they will not be guaranteed playing time, as well as the fact that they are joining big clubs with higher profiles, having featured at relative minnows Levante and Nice respectively.

However, it is Chelsea where the balance between keepers is more at a knife-edge and it is hard to see either Cech or Courtois remaining patient should either one find themselves consigned to the bench for a prolonged spell.

While the competition could be a short term boost for Mourinho, any tension from either keeper would certainly be detrimental.


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