Stoke's Jack Butland Could Start A Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal And Barcelona Merry Go Round

With Jack Butland off to Stoke in the summer; Begovic courted by Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United and De Gea rumoured to go to Barcelona, this could be the biggest goalkeeping merry go round in footballing history.
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With Jack Butland off to Stoke in the summer; Begovic courted by Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United and De Gea rumoured to go to Barcelona, this could be the biggest goalkeeping merry go round in footballing history.

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Stoke's Jack Butland Could Start A Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal And Barcelona Merry Go Round

Butland is one of the English game’s leading young players and is seen by some as the man to push Joe Hart either on to greatness or out of the way altogether. The lad is a precocious talent and at the tender age of 19 has spent the season as Birmingham’s first choice goalkeeper, earning a string of cracking performances, rave reviews and a transfer to a premier league club in the process.  He certainly deserves his shot in the best league in the world (tee emm) but it is not just the fact that he has made the step up to football’s top tier that is noteworthy it’s the nature of the transfer that interests me.

Butland was courted by the original moneybags of modern football, Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, but refused to leave Birmingham’s Championship mid-table anonymity to be shot at by Ashley Cole and play second fiddle to Petr Cech. In fact, the supremely confident Birmingham stopper wouldn’t go anywhere without the promise of first team football. It’s extremely heartening to see a young England international not lured in by the big pockets of Chelsea and City (what of Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell this year? Of Adam Johnson last? Of a young Scott Parker? Of Shawn Wright-Phill…okay, that might be step too far). Instead the Bristolian number one is focussing on his development as a footballer.

But what of Stoke? In Asmir Begovićthey have arguably the most impressive goalkeeper in the league this year and at 25 he is just going to get better. That, of course, makes him a valuable commodity to a club like Stoke and a highly interesting prospect to a number of clubs. Don’t be in any doubt that Begović will be on his way in the summer. The only question is where is he going?

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If you ask me Liverpool and Arsenal should be scrapping like alley-cats for the Bosnian’s signature. Pepe Reina is a liability and a sad avatar for his younger self, 8 individual errors leading to goals in the last 2 seasons can attest to that. Over at Ashburton Grove Wojciech Szczęsny, although improving, is similarly calamitous and offers nowhere near the stability and assuredness of Stoke’s current stopper (his shots:saves ratio was the lowest in the league last season) . These two are clubs in a state of (perpetual?) transition and could really benefit from a top-class ‘keeper to help them take a step up. You could argue that Everton could do with the significant improvement over Tim Howard that Begović would represent but they simply can’t afford the £12 to £15million outlay for what is a non-essential acquisition at Goodison.

Manchester City have the at times brilliant Joe Hart (though his air of invincibility has faded somewhat this season – a victim of his own hype, perhaps?) and the very able (from the little I have seen of him) Costel Pantilimon as a backup. Chelsea too are set in that area, Petr Cech has been back to almost his best over the past 18 months and in Thibaut Courtois they have one of the top young goalies in Europe. Tottenham are eprobably best placed in the league for goalkeeping talent with the really quite brilliant Hugo Lloris and yank stopping machine Brad Friedel (a man for whom the phrase ‘evergreen’ was coined) in their ranks. Manchester United, however, may be a different matter.

Let me get one thing straight – Utd would be mad to sell David De Gea. He is a shot-stopper of rare equanimity and should be cultivated and cajoled into being one of the world’s great goalkeepers (which he most definitely could be). United would do an exceptional young talent a huge disservice were they to get rid now. However, if the latest in the press is to be believed (another matter entirely) Mr, sorry, Sir Ferguson doesn’t seem to agree and will be looking to get rid in the summer. With Begović now available you might just see Fergie ship out his £17million Spanish protégé, but to where?

The goalkeeping merry-go-round continues…

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Jose Mourinho has shown distaste with Iker Casillas in recent weeks but only a fool would bet on the ‘keeper going and Mourinho staying (The Special One will return to Blighty in the summer, mark my words) so I can’t see Real Madrid being De Gea’s destination. Besides, he’s an Atlético lad anyway. However with Víctor Valdés potentially moving to Germany to have his belly tickled by Pep there might just be a slot in Catalunya for young De Gea. They’d be one of only a few clubs who could afford the transfer fee United would be looking to secure. Unlikely, yes – but possible.

Another possibility is that Asmir Begović (yes, back to him) moves to Liverpool and Reina replaces Valdés at Barca. Or Begović joins the Gunners, Reina moves to Barca, Szczęsny takes up post at Anfield, Fergie launches an audacious bid of £15million plus De Gea for Casillas which Mourinho accepts because he’s out the door anyway. Or maybe one of them signs that Elephant goalie from Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Mr Tickle (great reach), Sonic the Hedgehog (reflexes) or The Terminator (unflappable, that lad). Whatever the outcome, it might just be the most exciting summer transfer window for goalkeepers for… well, forever.

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