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With the January transfer window now over, Celtic are already planning ahead for a new wave of arrivals and departures in the summer.
As always, Ange Posetcoglou has one eye on the future.
But does that future include current No.1 Joe Hart?
We know it does in the short-term and Hart is the undisputed first choice keeper at the club. But with his contract expiring next summer, will the then 37 year old be part of the long term plan?
Joe Hart – A Leader In The Celtic Dressing Room
When it comes to goalkeepers, Celtic have had some mixed success in recent years.
The days of Fraser Forster – The Great Wall / La Gran Muralla – are long gone, and memories of a certain Vasilis Barkas continue to send a shudder down the spine of some Celtic supporters.
Some defended Barkas during his time at the club, but even his most ardent supporters will now concede that Joe Hart has gone on to show us the kind of performance levels we should be expecting from our No.1.
Hart is a two times Premier League winner and has 75 caps for England.
His career took a dip at Manchester City however when Pep Guardiola decided that he wasn’t good enough with the ball at his feet and subsequently replaced him with Claudio Bravo.
Those criticisms have since followed Hart wherever he has gone, and have been highlighted at times again during his time at Celtic.
With Ange Postecoglou’s insistence that his team play out from the back, his goalkeeper will see plenty of the ball.
Hart gets plenty of touches across the ninety minutes, but his weakness in this area is masked at least at a domestic level in Scotland.
Very few teams here are brave enough to press Celtic high up the pitch, meaning Hart has time to pick his pass.
In the Champions League, he was awarded no such luxury. And it showed.
Hart is a very good shot-stopper for the most part, though he has made some mistakes domestically too, most recently versus St. Johnstone last weekend.
He has proven, however, to be a trusted lieutenant of Ange in that his experience has been key in establishing Celtic as the dominant force again after one recent season finishing second.
He, along with Callum McGregor, are the undoubted leaders of the Celtic Dressing Room.
When looking at Hart’s contract, that experience should not be ignored.
Yes he’ll turn 36 years of age before the end of this season, but many modern keepers can play until they are 40 or beyond.
However, if Ange is looking to continually evolve his team, a new, younger goalkeeper should be targeted.
Perhaps initially as back-up to Hart with the view of then surpassing him as number one.
It would be a huge benefit to the club to retain the services of someone of his experience, not only as a player, but potentially moving into a coaching role alongside current goalkeeping coach Stevie Woods.
The big question is, would Hart be open to such an arrangement? Would a player of his calibre be happy to play back-up to any new No.1 at Celtic?
Will Hart Choose To Stay at Celtic?
Clearly, Joe Hart has fully bought in to what Ange wants him to do.
He has thrived as a leader within Postecoglou’s squad.
Talking recently he said:
“We believe that, no matter what moment in the game, no matter what opposition, whether that be St Mirren or away in the Bernabeu, we have proven that we are going to play our way.
We believe in it. It can’t be perfect. That’s impossible. But we’re doing our best to play at the highest level we can at all times. We believe that’s going to be enough.”
For the moment at least, Joe Hart is all in.
Celtic – and Ange – have given him a new lease of life.
But, should Celtic recruit a younger keeper in the next transfer window, how likely is it that – even in the twilight years of his career – Hart will be satisfied at playing second fiddle?
Even if he weren’t able to secure a return to the English Premier League, there’s every chance a host of Championship clubs would be keen to employ his services.
Now that he’s re-captured his love for the game, the prospect of continuing as a No.1 elsewhere may just be too hard for him to turn down.
It is a difficult call for the club to make. And for the player himself.
Hart spoke glowingly of the ability to have a full and frank conversation with Ange Postecoglou in summer 2021 before he decided to head north and join his Celtic revolution.
You’d fully expect that when the time comes for everyone to get back round the negotiating table again that same honesty will be on show.
Whether the proposal will tick all the right boxes this time around for Hart remains to be seen.
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