Barcelona have officially announced that goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is set to complete a summer move to Manchester City. The experienced Chilean international started and featured for 90 minutes at the Nou Camp last night (20 August) as Luis Enrique's side began the 2016/17 La Liga campaign with a 6-2 mauling of Real Betis, but was given permission to skip training this morning as he edges closer to an impending exit.
"We have the beginning of an agreement with Manchester City for Claudio Bravo," Barcelona's technical secretary, Robert Fernandez, was quoted as saying by the reigning Spanish champions after Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez notched five times between them in that emphatic opening victory.
"We are awaiting events this week. When Claudio leaves, we hope to have a new 'keeper."
That new stopper is believed to be current Ajax number one Jasper Cillessen, who De Telegraaf claim will sign a five-year deal in Catalonia for a fee of around €14m (£12.1m, $15.8m) before possibly being replaced by Tim Krul of Newcastle United. Valencia's Diego Alves had also been linked with a potential switch to Barcelona.
Confirmation of Bravo's imminent arrival casts yet more doubt on the future of long-serving City goalkeeper Joe Hart. The England regular has made 347 appearances for the club since joining from Shrewsbury Town in 2006, later replacing Shay Given as the undisputed first-choice between the posts, but has been dropped and replaced by former deputy Willy Caballero for the opening three matches of the season against Sunderland, Steaua Bucharest and Stoke City.
The 29-year-old has attracted attention from suitors overseas including the likes of serial Europa League winners Sevilla and Bundesliga contenders Borussia Dortmund, yet a season-long loan deal with Everton seems his most likely option with just 11 days remaining until the end of the transfer window.
Addressing the fervent speculation surrounding Hart during a press conference held before Saturday's 4-1 win at the Britannia Stadium, manager Pep Guardiola appeared to suggest that that the player would be allowed to leave City if he wished.
"The situation, they know exactly what it is," he said. "I don't know why the players are not happy here… stay if they want to stay. 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… But [I'm] not [just] speaking about Joe, [I'm] speaking about all the players at the club. The squad."