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As the World Cup approaches, both footballers and international coaches begin to get twitchy.
The managers are keen to ensure that they will be taking the best-prepared, best-equipped team to Brazil, where their lasting legacies will be written, while players are keen to ensure they are playing enough football to remain (or force themselves to be) foremost in a coach’s thoughts.
For a number of players, difficult situations with their clubs have meant that new pastures are being sought in January in order to stand in good stead to make the plane to Brazil.
Perhaps the most fascinating early example of this involves the rumours concerning Manchester City and two of the sport’s elite goalkeepers.
Both Joe Hart and Iker Casillas will be hoping to be the key men for their respective nations, England and Spain, next summer. However, as things stand, neither is sure of his place at club level, and it won’t be long before this begins to affect their role within the national side.
Hart’s rocky form has seen Manuel Pellegrini opt for Costel Pantilimon in his place. The fact that the Romanian started City’s Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday cannot have come as fond news for Hart. Any sustained inactivity on the part of the England goalkeeper in the early part of 2014 may force Roy Hodgson to seek security elsewhere—he is known to be a big fan of Ben Foster.
Hart’s concerns may be compounded if rumours linking Casillas to the Etihad Stadium are realised.
According to Bleacher Report’s own Guillem Balague, the legendary keeper is growing “disillusioned” with life at Real Madrid and is “edging towards the Real exit door.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s preference for Diego Lopez has left Casillas very much on the peripheries of the side, a situation he has not been used to in recent memory.
With Pellegrini looking for a solution for Hart’s inconsistencies and Casillas keen to assert himself, once again, over a whole host of pretenders for the Spanish No. 1 shirt, perhaps a trip to Manchester could have some major benefits down the road.