After last season’s mid-season troubles with goalkeepers and the form of Joe Hart causing Pellegrini a headache, the Chilean manager has set to prevent anything similar happening from this coming campaign with the signing of Willy Caballero set to be secured.
Caballero will join from La Liga side Malaga where he worked with Pellegrini before the latter moved to the Premier League last summer. At the age of 32, Caballero not alone holds valuable experience from his time playing at the top level in both Argentina and Spain as well as in the Champions League, but is reaching the age where most goalkeepers find the peak form of their careers. With the need to keep an increasingly cocky Joe Hart on his toes to perform week in week out, Caballero provides tougher competition to the number 1 spot at Manchester City than any of the recent occupants of the back-up berth.
Last season, Caballero was coming off the back of winning the La Liga goalkeeper of the season award for his efforts in 2012/13 and his good form continued despite difficulties that surrounded the club off the pitch. Featuring in all Malaga’s league matches, Caballero made 12 clean sheets and conceded an average of 1.21 goals per game. Joe Hart, despite playing fewer games, kept 13 clean sheets, but this could be blurred by the difference of defences between Malaga and Manchester City. When breaking it down to the average number of saves per goal, Caballero comes out on top making 2.48 compared to Hart’s 1.59 saves.
Compared to Pantilimon, who has joined Sunderland on a free transfer, the Argentine is miles ahead in terms of ability and this representative in the performances between the two in their respective leagues last season. The role of a goalkeeper at a top club is to keep their concentration and pull off vital saves despite spending most of the match watching from afar and Pantilimon failed to do this. The Romanian international managed to play 3 matches without making a single save and conceded in all of them – 2 of which cost Manchester City 4 points with a 0-1 defeat away to Sunderland and 1-1 draw against Southampton – alongside an unfortunate own goal, although some would argue he should have stopped the cross it originated from.
The need for two quality goalkeepers has become greater and greater over the years at the highest level with a drop of form or an injury causing harm to the chances of a side winning a trophy. Being able to rotate effectively without upsetting each player will be important for Pellegrini as well as making sure results aren’t affected by it; but the arrival of Willy Caballero can only be seen as a positive for the consistency of Joe Hart and the prospects of Manchester City’s season as whole.