Byline: Paul Hirst
Joe Hart, the unwanted Manchester City goalkeeper, is looking to leave the Etihad Stadium on loan, rather than on a permanent basis this summer, The Times understands.
Everton and Seville are interested in signing the England goalkeeper, who has been on the bench for Pep Guardiola's first two games in charge of City.
City's new manager has decided that Hart, 29, does not fit into his first-team plans because he does not possess the passing skills he requires from a sweeper-keeper. Guardiola has lined up a PS17 million deal for Claudio Bravo, who could complete his move from Barcelona in the next few days.
Sources close to Hart say that the goalkeeper, who has had a frosty relationship with Guardiola ever since he turned up for pre-season training, would be interested in speaking to Everton about a temporary deal.
City are willing to listen to offers for Hart, who is valued at more than PS20 million. But the player himself is understood to be against making a permanent move in this transfer window. Hart feels that the next move in his career is a huge one, particularly with his place as England's No 1 under threat. The transfer window remains open for less than two weeks and Hart feels that he needs longer to decide what is best for his career and his family.
The former Shrewsbury Town goalkeeper married his long-term partner Kimberly Crew in Florence last summer and the couple have a two-year-old son, Harlow.
Hart gave short shrift to reporters who asked him to comment about his future after the 5-0 win over Steaua Bucharest. "And talk about what?" he said before walking off.
His main priority, in a professional sense, is securing first-team football. Hart is fiercely proud of representing his country and wants to be No 1 in Sam Allardyce's regime. The new England manager is concerned about Hart and is mindful that Stoke's Jack Butland and Southampton's Fraser Forster, are pushing to be his first choice.
Everton would, of course, be willing to make Hart their first-choice. Ronald Koeman, the Everton manager, understands that Hart would be a significant upgrade on Maarten Stekelenburg, the 33-year-old Dutchman who joined from Fuham, the Championship side, last month.
Everton's new major shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, has promised Koeman extensive funds to build a team capable of qualifying for Europe and is willing to match Hart's wages of about PS110,000 a week. Moshiri feels that signing England's No 1 would be seen as a statement of intent for the club. He has tried to sign Juan Mata from Manchester United, but Jose Mourinho is intent on keeping the playmaker at Old Trafford.
A move to Seville would offer Hart first-team football and a chance to play in the Champions League, but it would also mean uprooting his family and moving to Andalucia.
The decision to ditch Hart has caused some consternation in some quarters, with former City midfielder Joey Barton branding Guardiola's actions "disgusting". He added: "I don't see what he has done wrong to be treated the way he has. His attitude isn't terrible. It is common human decency. Why treat him like that?" Guardiola sees Bravo, 33, as an ideal replacement for Hart because he is comfortable with the ball at his feet and is proficient in both his short and long-range distribution.
The Chilean was Barcelona's No 1 last year, but has since been demoted behind Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Guardiola's original target. Barcelona are close to signing Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves as Bravo's replacement.
Willy Caballero will drop to the bench if Bravo signs. The Argentinian kept goal in the 2-1 win over Sunderland and the 5-0 victory in Romania. City's play-off first leg victory means they are all but guaranteed a place in the Champions League group stages.
Despite missing four of his last five European spot-kicks, including two on Tuesday, Sergio Aguero has vowed to continue taking penalties and refused to blame the Steaua fan who shone a laser pen in his eye in his run-up for his two misses. "That is not an excuse," he said. " I have to improve. I have enough confidence to take them."
Hart keeps clean sheets, but Bravo's the pass master
Hart needs first-team football because he is desperate to hang on to his place as England's No 1
PAUL ELLIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES