Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola appears to have opened the door for long-serving goalkeeper Joe Hart to leave the club this summer. The England number one has been a permanent fixture at the Etihad Stadium since succeeding Shay Given as first-choice stopper in 2010, making 347 appearances and winning two Premier League titles.
The decision to replace Manuel Pellegrini with Guardiola has thrown considerable doubt upon his position, however, with Hart sensationally dropped in favour of former deputy Willy Caballero for the Spaniard's first Premier League match in charge against Sunderland last weekend.
He remained on the bench for Tuesday's (16 August) emphatic 5-0 demolition of Steaua Bucharest in the first leg of their Champions League play-off round tie, with widespread reports suggesting that Barcelona's Claudio Bravo was being lined up as his long-term replacement. Hart has subsequently attracted attention from both Sevilla and Everton – the latter of which are likely to pursue a loan deal – and the BBC claims he is considering leaving City before the transfer window shuts at the end of this month.
"The situation, they know exactly what it is," Guardiola was quoted as saying at a press conference held before City's upcoming trip to Stoke. "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."
He added: "I spoke with Joe from the first moment we met in China. I try to be clear with my players and I was clear with him. I have a lot of respect about him as a person and a goalkeeper. I know his value and I know his talent."
Guardiola further stressed that "everything is open" in terms of both incoming and outgoing transfers right up until the deadline on 31 August and that "maybe Joe will stay here and be a player who will fight with the other goalkeepers to convince me to play".
City visit the Britannia Stadium on Saturday lunchtime looking to build on their opening 2-1 victory in the top-flight, which was secured courtesy of Sergio Aguero and a late own goal from Paddy McNair. Offering the usual pre-match injury update, the manager confirmed that new signings Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane were closing in on their respective returns from injury.
He neglected to state if Bacary Sagna would be available after only featuring as a second half-substitute in the Romanian capital, while Vincent Kompany is taking part in non-full contact training. On the continued absence of midfielder Yaya Toure, he said: "Yaya is trying very well, he loves football. I spoke with him about his situation, he's a player with huge quality and I'm really glad that his agent said I'm a good coach. I have adulation and respect for Yaya's quality – when he increases his intensity without the ball, he will be involved."