Why Leeds United should avoid signing veteran keeper Joe Hart
The 33-year-old Hart, who plays for Burnley, will be available on a free transfer when his current contract with the club expires on June 30. The former England No.1 was signed by Burnley boss Sean Dyche back in 2018, following injuries to keeper’s Nick Pope and Tom Heaton. However, Hart has not enjoyed a successful spell at Turf Moor and has mostly spent time warming the benches.
He made 21 appearances for the Clarets in his debut season, before first-choice man Heaton replaced him at the helm after regaining fitness. Even the departure of Heaton to Aston Villa last summer did not change the situation for Hart, who became a deputy to fit-again Pope.
Also, with Pope excelling for Burnley with 11 clean sheets to his name this season, Hart has found chances increasingly hard to come by. Constantly being on the sidelines seems to have frustrated Hart, who is now ready to take a pay cut on his £70k-a-week wages to join Leeds United in the summer.
A two-time Premier League winner with Manchester City, Hart’s career took a downward spiral after the arrival of Pep Guardiola in 2016. Poor form and inconsistency saw the goalkeeper being sent on loan spells to Torino and West Ham.
However, Hart failed to regain his form even after being sent on loan, eventually moving to Turf Moor two years back. A veteran of 348-matches for City, the English man is now itching to revive his career which once looked promising.
Leeds better off without Hart
Meanwhile, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United are enjoying a successful spell as table-toppers in the Championship – thanks to the excellent form of their No.1 goalkeeper Kiko Casilla. The former Real Madrid custodian has conceded just 30 goals from his 35 league appearances and has an impressive 15 clean sheets to his name.
However, Casilla, who is tied to the Whites until 2023, faces an uncertain future after being found guilty of racially abusing Jonathan Leko during a match with Charlton in September.
The Spaniard received an 8-match ban for his actions and Leeds would be tempted to bring a replacement for their main man. This could see the doors open for Hart, who is craving to prove a point.
However, Leeds should shy away from such a proposal, with the side already having as many as three other goalkeepers in the side. Casilla’s deputy Illan Meslier has been touted as a future first-choice man after impressing in the box during the Spaniard’s absence.
A crowd favourite, 20-year-old Meslier has won the hearts of Leeds fans after featuring three times for the Championship leaders this term. The Frenchman, who was a regular presence in the national youth sides has also contributed to his side with two clean sheets, conceding just one goal overall.
Bielsa’s squad also has young goalkeepers Will Huffer (21), and Elia Caprile (18) in the mix, meaning they have enough back-up to help them next season. Hence, Leeds United must shy away from making any proposal for veteran Hart, who has failed to revive his career since leaving City.
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Leeds already have enough goalkeepers and bringing in a Premier League struggler like Hart would only be surplus to their requirements. Also, with Meslier putting up a good show in Casilla’s absence, this seems like the best time for Leeds to offer more chances to their young custodian. Hence, Leeds should avoid wasting time on Hart, who’s spent more time off the pitch than on it.