Here is the perfect example of a foreign player in England being criticised for the simple fact that he comes from a foreign country.
Claudio Bravo’s short Manchester City career has been labelled a failure simply because he replaced England international Joe Hart. Every touch and mistake develops into back-page headlines for mainstream publications – with Bravo outed as a novice to goalkeeping. Fans who are desperate for City to fail are quick to jump on his back, but the reality is that he remains one of the best in the world and will be a roaring success for Pep Guardiola.
At 33 years-old, Bravo is not a rookie. Like a fine wine, he has only become better with age. To state that Joe Hart is a better goalkeeper than the Chile international would be foolish and rather uneducated. People should query whether Joe Hart’s distribution would suit someone with Guardiola desired style.
Goalkeepers are there to prevent the opposition from scoring, yes, but the last line of defence is now being used more frequently to start play from the back in the modern game. Bravo’s ability to do exactly this is what Guardiola requests from every goalkeeper to have played for him, and is he that bad at it? He’s the best at it in fact.
Cast your minds back to 2014; Luis Enrique personally requested Bravo despite Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s arrival. When Barcelona fans witnessed Bravo taking the one number jersey, a large number were highly aggrieved. However, despair soon turned to delight.
The Chilean capped off arguably the greatest two seasons in history for a goalkeeper, ensuring Barcelona’s supremacy in La Liga. With Ter Stegen considered the best young goalkeeper in the world, Bravo swiftly benched the German international and maintained reliable performance levels in the league.
In 2014/2015, Bravo captured the La Liga title and in the process recorded the most clean sheets, and fewest goals conceded. When you compare him to his young rival, these figures are outstanding. The fact he played more minutes and achieved the most wins for the club speaks volumes in itself because of the greatness of Barcelona.
Bravo was not competing with everyday players for this tag; this was Barcelona. The goalkeeper’s unwavering concentration and sharp reactions showed that he is just as viable an option for the world’s best goalkeeper.
At City, he already is become an integral member of the squad. Four goals already, in just five games, have started with Bravo playing the ball from the back – something which is regularly overlooked by his critics. His passing rate over the past 3 years has an 84% accuracy – higher than any goalkeeper in Europe.
Some players are ideal for managers, and Bravo has proven his status as being one of European football’s best, and his style is evidently perfect for a manager like Guardiola – and that fact should be recognised.
Don’t most goalkeepers need a settling in period, or is this not allowed when he replaces someone English? Bravo needs time to adapt to the quicker pace of play in England along with becoming accustomed to his new defensive back-line. When this happens, expect to see why Guardiola was so keen to recruit the Chile international.