MANCHESTER, England — Claudio Bravo’s debut for Manchester City is set to come in the most high-profile match of the English Premier League season: The Manchester derby.
City manager Pep Guardiola said the Chile goalkeeper, who completed his move from Barcelona for 13.75 million pounds ($18.2 million) on Thursday, will not play against West Ham in the league on Sunday.
City’s next match is against United on Sept. 10, after the upcoming two-week break for international games.
Throwing Bravo into the cauldron of one of the most eagerly anticipated Manchester derbies in recent times wouldn’t concern Guardiola, though.
Guardiola values Bravo because of the goalkeeper’s high-level experience with Barca and Copa America champion Chile, and his ability to start attacks from the back — a trait of Guardiola’s sides and the reason why Joe Hart has lost his starting place at Etihad Stadium.
“With his experience, anticipation of situations in front of the box, good in the build-up plays, quick under the posts, he (Bravo) is a good player for us,” Guardiola said on Friday.
“I was lucky to have under my command Chilean players like Alexis Sanchez (at Barca) and Arturo Vidal (at Bayern Muncih) before, and now Claudio Bravo. … And with the goalkeeper with more than 100 caps for his national team and a team that can compete with Argentina or Brazil, it’s a really good asset for us.”
As a youngster, Bravo played as a striker before dropping further and further back and ending up as a goalkeeper. For that reason, he is good with the ball at his feet and that characteristic is as important to Guardiola as stopping shots and catching crosses.
Hart is not as comfortable in possession, meaning his City future is looking bleak after 10 years at the club, during which time he has become England’s first-choice goalkeeper. Hart has already been told by Guardiola that he can leave City, and the Spanish coach said on Friday the club will help him secure a move away this transfer window.
“We want the best for him and of course the club is going to help him get the best solution for him,” Guardiola said of Hart, a player he described as a City “legend” this week. “If the transfer window is closed and he is here, he has to stay here and he will be treated like another one.
“He deserves what he deserves, I will try to be fair with him.”
However, Guardiola confirmed Hart and Willy Caballero — who has replaced Hart as City’s starting goalkeeper — will be fighting to be the club’s backup to Bravo.