Manchester City could become the latest Premier League club to re-sign a former player by making a move for Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Pep Guardiola, whose team will qualify for the Champions League if they take at least a point at Watford this afternoon, wants a new keeper after the decision to axe Joe Hart backfired.
Claudio Bravo, who replaced Hart last summer, has suffered poor form and injury since arriving from Barcelona.
Manchester City are weighing up re-signing former goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel
City manager Pep Guardiola wants a new keeper after the decision to axe Joe Hart backfired
Guardiola praised Schmeichel for his sweeper-keeper performance for Leicester at the Etihad last weekend with the Dane generally recognised as the best footballing goalkeeper in the division.
Schmeichel, 30, played 10 first-team games for Manchester City at the start of his career before moving on, reaching the pinnacle by winning the title with Leicester last season.
There has been a trend recently for the top clubs to re-sign players they previously let go. Paul Pogba rejoined Manchester United last summer and Jose Mourinho is also interested in taking back Michael Keane from Burnley, while Chelsea are pursuing their former striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton.
Argentine Willy Caballero will be between the sticks at Vicarage Road on Sunday with Bravo ruled out with a calf tear, but the 35-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and doesn’t know if he will be offered a new deal.
Guardiola has targeted the big Dane as his No 1 keeper priority due to his skills with the ball
Caballero would like to sign a new deal but it is Schmeichel who interests the club this summer
‘Of course I want to stay,’ said Caballero. ‘This is the biggest club of my career, but it’s not just my decision. It is the decision of the club and what they are looking for. I don’t know what will happen yet.
‘I have enjoyed playing more games this season and I just want to enjoy this next game. Afterwards, probably my agent and the club will have some thoughts but for my side, I have to be concentrated on Watford because we need the points. I have to be focused.’
While City are odds-on to finish in the top four, any slip-up on Sunday could be costly, with fifth-place Arsenal three points behind with a winnable home game against Everton in which to make up a five-goal swing.
Watford have lost their last five games, but beat Manchester United and Everton at home this season.
‘It will be difficult,’ said City defender Aleksandar Kolarov. ‘Every year the smaller teams in the Premier League are becoming stronger.’
Family affair: Kasper Schmeichel, whose dad Peter (above right) was at City with his son (pictured, above left, in 2003), is set for a return
This is the first trophyless season of Guardiola’s career and he has been left cursing the small margins between success and failure after watching Kevin De Bruyne hit the woodwork nine times, more than anyone else in the Premier League this season.
The Belgian has scored only seven times for Guardiola compared to 16 goals the previous season but the City boss said: ‘I’d like Kevin to be at the same level but he’s hit a lot of crossbars and that’s not his fault. He has a lot of quality.’
Guardiola has acknowledged being on a steep learning curve, having to cope with teams such as West Bromwich who pump the ball into the penalty area, and referees who offer goalkeepers less protection than elsewhere in Europe.
Aleksandar Kolarov (left) knows Watford can be dangerous opponents having beaten top sides
Kolarov added: ‘We weren’t good enough to win the title but we have improved a lot this season.
‘To win something you have to win all your home games if possible. At 1-0 in some games we missed the chance to put the second goal in and then conceded goals in the last minutes. But we always dominate the games and I am sure we will be much stronger next season.’
The Serb was undoubtedly referring to the 3-1 home defeat by Chelsea in December which City dominated for an hour but ended up being a turning point in the race for the title.