Leeds United have been linked with Burnley goalkeeper Joe Hart, who’s out-of-contract in the summer. A two time Premier League winner and World Cup goalkeeper with England, but Leeds can do much, much better.
There’s a reason why Pep Guardiola is regarded by many as the best manager in the world, and a reason why he dropped Joe Hart upon his maiden 2016/17 season in charge of Manchester City. The game changed drastically in the last decade – largely due to Guardiola bringing about a whole new way of football – and Hart has been left behind.
The goalkeeper is as important a member of the team as ever nowadays. They are effectively an extra defender who’s expected to build attacks from the base, much like a central defender would, allowing for their teammates to press higher up the pitch. It’s a tried and tested method and one that works for a lot of teams. So why, if Guardiola deemed Hart unfit for modern football, would Leeds want him?
Be them in the Championship or Premier League next season, signing Hart on a free would see like a smart move – on paper. He’s 75 caps for England, solid experience on all stages, and has hinted that he’s interested in joining the Yorkshire club having declared that he’ll take a healthy pay cut to do so.
But his fall from grace has been there for everyone to see. Guardiola was ripped apart by British media when he exiled Hart and many thought he was making a huge mistake. Hart though has since proven the Spaniard right. The 33-year-old’s decline can be attributed to Guardiola’s treatment of him, and subsequent loss of confidence, but he’s since had three fresh opportunities with Torino, West Ham United and Burnley, and in all of them he’s barely seemed half the keeper he once was.
Can you get 15 out of 15 on this Leeds United quiz? Have a go now!
Despite the ongoing lack of football and uncertainty surrounding the season, it seems probable that Leeds will be playing Premier League football next season, and inevitable that they’ll eventually return to the heights of English football. They’ve currently got one of the best squads the Championship has seen and some of the best young, English talents in their squad, yet that squad will still need bolstering if they go up.
Marcelo Bielsa should have his sights set on a much younger goalkeeper, one who compliments the modern game and the way his team plays. As good as signing a once top goalkeeper sounds, Hart is past it. He seems like the answer to a goalkeeping conundrum that’s been flickering through Leeds since their Premier League demise, but going on his form for what’s coming up to four years now, moving to Leeds seems like it’d be just another stepping stone on Hart’s decline.
English football today is home to some of Europe’s best up-and-coming goalkeepers. Even in the Championship, goalkeepers like David Raya, Marek Rodak and Brice Samba to name a few – all aged 26-years-old or younger and all have shown this season that they have the potential to be a Premier League keeper in the future, if not now.
Despite the argument outlined above, Hart’s move to Leeds seems to be materialising. It’d be a fine watch if Hart did go to Leeds and remind people of the goalkeeper that we’ve all seen in him before. He’s a likeable character who was dealt a cruel blow by his manager and has suffered greatly since. But he’s damaged goods now. Damaged goods and a goalkeeper who’s been left behind by the ever-changing face of football, and Leeds might do well to avoid this one.