Manchester City Transfer Move for Manuel Neuer Is a Further Blow to Joe Hart

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIDecember 8, 2013

Neuer may be City's #1 priority in a coming transfer window.
Neuer may be City's #1 priority in a coming transfer window.Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Deposed Manchester City keeper Joe Hart has kept up a brave face during his time of exile to the City bench.

Does this look like a man who is worried about his future?

Hart looks positively cozy in that jacket and scarf.
Hart looks positively cozy in that jacket and scarf.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

But Hart's carefree mien may be creased by the fresh report that City boss Manuel Pellegrini wants Bayern Munich keeper Manuel Neuer—and might pay £40 million to get him, per James Desborough of the Express.

This is just the latest in a series of revolting developments for Hart at City.

When Costel Pantilimon's stint as City's No. 1 keeper began, Hart understandably seemed unfazed. After all, City boss Manuel Pellegrini told the world that Hart would eventually get his job back.

As Richard Jolly reported for, Pellegrini had this to say about Hart: "I think at this moment that maybe Joe needs a rest but we still have a lot of trust in Joe...I am absolutely convinced he will come back to his performances of the last two years."

That was reassuring, but as the days have turned to weeks with Hart clearly behind Pantilimon, the leading indicators have become more ominous for Hart.

First off, Pantilimon has played an unspectacular but steady game since taking over for Hart.

Stabilizing the keeper position paid dividends for Pellegrini. City have won seven, lost one and drawn one in all competitions since Pellegrini made the change. Hart played one of those nine matches and conceded two goals to Viktoria Plzen.

Pantilimon's composed play has kept Hart glued to the City bench.
Pantilimon's composed play has kept Hart glued to the City bench.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

So Hart's first possible fast track back to his starting spot—Pantilimon playing badly—did not happen.

As night follows day, then, Pellegrini's more recent quotes about Hart and Pantilimon express no interest in rushing Hart back to his prior place. 

"Now we are playing Pantilimon, so Hart must wait," Pellegrini said according to Sky Sports. "He played the last two and a half years all the games in the Premier League. All the players are human and can have a bad moment."

That does not much sound like Hart is getting his job back soon, does it?

And now this, a rumoured play for the man many view as the world's best keeper: "City owners would have to part with a minimum of £40 is likely City will make their move in the next 12 months as Neuer, 28, will be examining his deal with Bayern."

Hart must now take his table scraps as he finds them. Pellegrini has named Hart the starter for City's Champions League group stage finisher at Bayern, according to Joe Bernstein of the Daily Mail.

The irony does not get much thicker.

After all, it was against Bayern in Champions League group play that Hart committed one of his most damning errors by misplaying Franck Ribery's seventh-minute strike into his goal en route to a 3-1 loss. City were never in the match after that Ribery tally.

Now Hart gets another shot at Bayern, but in a match that has little real significance to either side, as they are both already through to the knockout stage.

Hart could backstop City to a 1-0 win at Bayern with 20 saves in that fixture and still not get his job back.

All while looking into the other goal and, perhaps, seeing City's future No. 1 keeper.