Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has stepped up his interest in signing Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper Rui Patricio as a replacement for Joe Hart, reports Daily Record.

The English goalkeeper was dropped against Sunderland in the season opener as Willy Caballero started the game. Joe Hart was confined to the bench and is expected to warm the bench in the upcoming games.

City have been linked with Barcelona’s star goalie Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, but the former Monchengladbach keeper has a massive £69million release clause in his contract with the Catalan club.

The 24-year old have also suffered an injury which would see him out for the next six weeks which prompted Pep Guardiola to look elsewhere.

Rui Patricio has emerged as a new target as he possesses all the skills that are needed by a goalkeeper and he is a much cheaper option than ter Stegen. The 28-year-old has a €45m (£38.8m) buy out clause in his current deal at Sporting Lisbon.

The Portuguese international has recently helped Portugal in winning their maiden Euro title and have been a regular starter for Portugal since 2012 qualifying campaign.

Asked about Hart’s future earlier in the week, Guardiola said that he was “happy with his qualities, about his behaviour and what he means to this club”. However the Catalan has said a decision on Hart’s future would be made “inside the doors”.

“Joe is a goalkeeper and with a goalkeeper, I talk to him and said, ‘Here is the ball at your feet’, and about what he has to do, rather than what he has to do with his hands,” said Guardiola.

“We have [goalkeeper coach] Xabi Mancisidor for that. So we have had a chat. He’s comfortable [on the ball]. He has quality and he can do that – with time. I’m not saying he’s unable to do it.

“Maybe there are other goalkeepers with more quality at that. But Joe, with training, he can do it – with time. But his time is now. It’s not about what happens in six months, seven months”.

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