UPDATE (3:25 PM ET): In a conference call with reporters following the MLS SuperDraft, Minnesota United technical director Mark Watson said Vito Mannone has been offered what he called an "improved offer," which would have made him the highest-paid goalkeeper in MLS, only to have the Italian reject it. While Watson said conversations with Mannone are ongoing, the club are in discussions with "secondary targets of very good quality."
On a conference call with media, #MNUFC technical director said Vito Mannone has turned down an improved second offer. The team has been looking at other "secondary targets of very good quality."— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) January 9, 2020
#MNUFC technical director Mark Watson said club made offer to Vito Mannone to be highest paid goalie in #MLS, but it was declined.#Loons made “improved offer and that’s been rejected.”— Andy Greder (@andygreder) January 9, 2020
Watson said they’re still speaking with Mannone’s agent, but also looking at other targets.
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During the 2020 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas Thursday, reports surfaced Minnesota United have been in talks with English goalkeeper Joe Hart.
News first broke via Jeff Rueter of The Athletic, and then ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman added more background on the broadcast.
"There was a rumor floating around this offseason that Joe Hart would have been the goalkeeper of Minnesota United, but no one called them back," Twellman said. "So, Minnesota United could have had him for a million dollars a year." Twellman added a correction, saying he's heard there have been recently conversations.
I can confirm that #MNUFC holds Joe Hart’s discovery rights, per multiple league sources. The Loons are still in the market for their starting goalkeeper, as Vito Mannone’s loan from Reading has expired.— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) January 9, 2020
A club spokesperson confirmed Minnesota United's interest in Hart and that the sides have been working on a potential deal.
Hart was also linked with Inter Miami CF in December, wguke Minnesota have the goalkeeper’s discovery rights, according to Rueter. As of now, they don’t have Vito Mannone, the 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, under contract after his loan from English club Reading expired.
Hart, 32, has been at Premier League side Burnley since 2018, though has often been second choice behind Nick Pope. He spent a dozen years at Manchester City, only to fall out of favor in recent years, prompting loan spells to Torino and West Ham United. At the international level, Hart has earned 75 caps with England.
As matters stand, the Loons have 2019 SuperDraft first-round selection Dayne St. Clair and former Orlando City player Greg Ranjitsingh as goalkeeper on their 2020 roster. They’ll begin the upcoming season March 1 at the Portland Timbers.