With Manchester City still facing a rather uncertain goalkeeper situation, Manuel Pellegrini and Txiki Begiristain will no doubt be monitoring possible January signings.
Joe Hart has been dropped because of his poor run of form (although the manager has intimated he will return at some stage), while Costel Pantilimon, his replacement, is far from the ideal solution. It's an area that needs addressing.
City have two options: Either they can look to replace Hart with a goalkeeper of the highest quality, such as Iker Casillas or Victor Valdes, a move which could quite possibly signal the end of Hart's City career, or they can seek a temporary answer—someone who, in the short term, can push Hart more than Pantilimon.
If the second option is preferable, then City should look no further than Julio Cesar, the Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper, who is available on a free transfer in January after falling behind Rob Green in the pecking order.
According to the Fulham Chronicle, (via David Wright of the Daily Star), QPR manager Harry Redknapp has admitted that Cesar can leave for nothing as he looks to secure first-team football at club level in order to cement his position as the Brazil goalkeeper ahead of this summer’s World Cup.
We wouldn't stand in Julio's way and we aren't asking a fee for him. He needs to play and he could play anywhere for any team. He's just been unlucky.
Rob's been fantastic and I can't take him out of the team.
However, Julio's a great guy, and he needs to play soon, so he can play in the World Cup.
It's a deal that would make a lot of sense for City.
The form Hart showed between 2009-2012 makes many people believe he is suffering from a severe confidence crisis that, if overcome, would see him once again take his place as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. If, indeed, that is the case, and it's a logical assumption to make, then a move for a player like Cesar could really suit City.
Cesar could come in on an 18-month deal and offer real competition to the England stopper—something he has lacked at club and international level for some time. Cesar is an excellent goalkeeper who, during his seven-year spell at Inter Milan, carved a reputation as one of the finest goalkeepers in the world.
At 34, he surely has a few more years left at the top, and Hart would learn a lot from a player with so much experience at one of Europe's top teams. His 77 caps for Brazil are also a testament to his ability to handle playing for big sides.
If City's technical staff decide to keep faith with Hart in the long term, then a move for Cesar in January would make a lot of sense.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.
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