Claudio Bravo seems almost certain to join Manchester City. Barcelona's sporting director Robert Fernández told the press the team has "the beginning of an agreement" with the English club. Bravo could play one more game for Barcelona - away to Athletic Club de Bilbao on August 28. But that's it. The transfer window shuts on August 31st, and barring a total reversal of course, Bravo and Barcelona will be parting ways.
Who would have thought it when Barcelona signed the Chilean keeper from Real Sociedad in June 2014 that City would dump Joe Hart to sign him two years later? Or that some Barcelona fans would have second thoughts about selling the 33 year old - at a profit no less - because they thought maybe he was better than Marc-Andre Ter Stegen?
Bravo began his career with Colo-Colo in his native Chile. At 23 he won his first title, saving a penalty in a shootut win against Universidad de Chile to secure the Chilean league crown. That would prove to be his last match with Colo-Colo, as he transferred to La Real.
Bravo fought for his place in the San Sebastian with Asier Riesgo, finally becoming first-choice, although the Basques were relegated despite good performances by the goalkeeper. He also became Chile's #1 for the 2007 Copa America. In the following years he earned plaudits for his work in the second division, increasing speculation that he would sign as a backup for a big club like Real Madrid or Valencia. He won the Zamora Trophy for best goalkeeper in the second division in 2008-09.
However, he stayed on at La Real and help them win the division and achieve a return to the top flight. Over the following years, Bravo became one of the Basque club's most consistent performers, helping them retain their place in the top division. The team even achieved a Champions League place and a seventh place finish in his last two seasons.
Despite an illustrious career, there were doubts about his signing when FC Barcelona unveiled him at the same time as Marc-Andre Ter Stegen in summer 2014.
Bravo was seen as a backup, and his price tag, 12 million euro, as too expensive. La Liga was stacked with great keepers - Keylor Navas, Thibaut Courtois, Willy Caballero, Diego Alves - was Bravo really that special?
Those doubts were redoubled when, in a friendly against Napoli, Bravo let slip a goal via a costly error which doomed Barcelona to defeat.
However, an injury to Ter Stegen made Bravo the de facto starter, and once the real games began, Bravo was at the top of his game. Barcelona did not concede in any of his first eight games. He came close to Miguel Reina's club record of 824 minutes without conceding, passing Victor Valdes for the second-longest streak.
Ter Stegen settled in as the team's cup and Champions League keeper, with Bravo holding a steady grasp to the league matches.
The Chilean's most important and memorable save that season may have been against Real Madrid in an eventual 2-1 win that helped secure La Liga trophy. With Barcelona holding onto a 2-1 lead. Karim Benzema struck a shot from outside the box which ricocheted off Gerard Pique.
The ball caught Bravo wrong-footed and seemed destined for the net, but the keeper was able to lunge and parry it away to secure the victory.
Another big moment that season came against Valencia. Barcelona led 1-0 but looked completely exhausted after a mid-week game. Pique gave away a penalty and Dani Parejo stepped up to take. It wasn't a great one, but all the same, Bravo completely smothered the shot and gave Barcelona life.
The Catalans persevered and hung on to their slim lead until Lionel Messi made it 2-0 with the last kick of the game. The league title was almost assured. However, it wasn't fully assured until Barcelona won the last match 1-0 against Atletico Madrid, with Bravo making an acrobatic save in the process. Bravo was a deserved La Liga champion and Barcelona won the treble with Ter Stegen starting in the other two competitions.
Bravo captained Chile to their first Copa America title the following summer, keeping his nerve in a shootout against Messi's Argentina in the final.
He returned to Barcelona as the Liga starter and kept his place even after returning from injury. That season, Bravo played possibly his finest game ever. The victims were Real Madrid, as Barcelona drubbed them 4-0.
Every time Barcelona scored, Real Madrid seemed to have a chance themselves, only to be denied by the Chilean. There were two long range blasts from James Rodriguez that Bravo contained - one up 1-0 and the other up 2-0.
Up 3-0, Cristiano Ronaldo hoped to pull one back as he was left alone 1-on-1 against Bravo. But the keeper blocked Ronaldo in the personal duel apparently with his face.
Up 4-0, Karim Benzema sent in a looping header from just outside the six-yard box, but again, Bravo was there to meet it and deflect it away.
And with almost no time remaining, Bravo made another spectacular save, this time off a Ronaldo header. And that was just the Cliff's Notes version of his titanic performance. Better watch this one the whole way:
Bravo's other memorable moment that season was against Atletico Madrid. Through a combination of luck and positioning, he saved what looked like a sure Antoine Griezmann goal (and an equalizer for Atletico) from inches away.
Bravo also won the Club World Cup that season, and Barcelona retained the league title with Bravo winning his second Zamora Trophy - this time for the top flight - as well as his first LFP Award for Best Keeper.
In the summer, Bravo won the Copa America in a penalty shootout again, again against Argentina. But the situation became unsettled, as both he and Ter Stegen vied for being the undisputed starter in both La Liga and the Champions League.
However, with Ter Stegen injured, Bravo stepped in and has started Barcelona's 3 official matches this season. His last heroics may be saving a penalty in the Spanish Super Cup as Barcelona eased past Sevilla to claim the title.
So, his time at Barcelona seems to be up, but Bravo still deserves the plaudits for two incredible seasons in which he exceeded expectations and put his name up for debate as one of the top keepers in the world.
Unless something radically changes, Bravo will play for Manchester City. Good for him, he deserves to be the undisputed #1, as does Ter Stegen. And Barcelona make a tidy profit off a veteran keeper, that's not too bad.
Finally, I leave you with this stat: since Bravo joined Barcelona in 2015, Barcelona and Chile have won every competition where Bravo has made more than one appearance.
- La Liga 2014-15
- Copa America 2015
- Club World Cup 2016
- La Liga 2015-16
- Copa America 2016
- Supercopa 2016