Joe Hart entered the Pep Guardiola-Manchester City era as a man whose fate had already been decided. Guardiola wanted a goalkeeper more fleet of foot and one that could fill the role of a sweeper at the back. Hart had no place in City’s goal and his impending departure wasn’t a shock to fans.
What was a shock was Hart’s decision to join Serie A team Torino on a season-long loan. Unable to move to Liverpool, Everton or another English Premier League rival, Hart decided to get out of the media storm that is English football and take up residence in beautiful Turin, Italy.
Torino may not be the biggest named team that resides in Turin, that privilege belongs to Juventus, but the team have a glorious past. It is just a shame that it is too often overshadowed by the Old Lady of Italian football.
Ahead of the season, Torino had positioned themselves to make a strong challenge with the signing of coach Sinisa Mihajlovic and players Adem Ljajic, Iago Falque and Leandro Castan. Unfortunately for Hart and Torino, the season hasn’t gone to plan, and the club’s hopes of challenging the top five in Serie A hasn’t happened. Though the push for Europe hasn’t quite happened, Torino have been fun to watch as they currently sit 15 points off a European spot.
For Hart, the season has been quite successful. He has played well in goal for Torino and has earned a respect from Italian fans that wasn’t there previously. The Englishman has kept five clean sheets despite Torino’s defence being shaky and conceding 48 goals – fifth most in the league. The team’s poor defence is a result of the summer sales of Bruno Peres and Kamil Glik.
During the international break, Hart revealed football clubs aren’t lining up to sign the England star. Guardiola, for all his and Manchester City’s goalkeepering faults in 2016-17, doesn’t appear to want a reconciliation with the on loan Hart either. Another season in Italy could be a possibility and that could see him return to Torino.
Serie A’s traditional top clubs of AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus have their goalkeeper positions filled. Though teams further south in Rome – Roma and Lazio – could make a play for the Englishman in the summer.
Even though teams have yet to queue up for Hart, he has stated he is happy in Italy. According to the man himself, he is enjoying the challenge of playing in Serie A, and perhaps next season Torino could be ready to make a run for Europe.
Hart and his excursion to Italy could spawn more English players to leave the comforts of home to find first team football. Hart is an exception to the traditional rule for English players, and he has shown he is a brave player that will do whatever it takes to get back into the side. Even if there is no chance of a return in Guardiola’s team.