Man City may wave goodbye to fan favourite as Real Madrid lurk

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When Joe Hart ripped the Manchester City gloves off Shay Given’s hands at the start of the 2010/11 campaign, it looked like the future Premier League champions had their starting goalkeeper sorted for the foreseeable future.

They may have to do without him after the summer’s transfer window though, as Spanish giants Real Madrid have emerged as suitors for the former Shrewsbury stopper’s signature.

A reshuffle between the Bernabeu sticks looks certain once this campaign, which Madrid are 16/5 to land the Champions League in, finishes as both current options move further into their 30s.

Iker Casillas, the club’s long-loved poster boy, is now not considered good enough to mind the net in La Liga, being used solely in the Champions League and Copa Del Rey and failing to make a single Spanish top-flight appearance this season.

His replacement has been 32-year-old Diego Lopez, but even he looks to only have a short term stint as the Los Blancos number one, with Hart eyed as the preferred option for the future.

That’s why a jaw-dropping £25m bid is being readied for the England man, who is a 1/50 certainty to travel as part of the Three Lions’ squad for this summer’s World Cup, and it could be that City decide to cash in.

Like Casillas, Hart has endured his own share of bench warming this term, having been replaced by understudy Costel Pantilimon for a stretch of matches over the course of the winter months, where he started just two of a possible 11.

Hart recently commented how hurt he was about being ousted, which in turn convinced Madrid that he could be prised away from Premier League life.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Casillas is offered as a makeweight in the deal, although with the oodles of cash at the Etihad club’s disposal, they are sure to be confident of luring another top prospect to Manchester as a replacement anyway.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.