Sky Sports is reporting this afternoon that Chelsea have approached Birmingham City about 19-year old goalkeeper Jack Butland. According to most English news outlets, Birmingham are in a bit of financial trouble and need to sell some players in order to avoid administration. They don't have many players that would still be of interest to top level clubs, and selling Butland would seem to make all sorts of sense because of that.
But why would Chelsea be interested? Butland is a nice young keeper, but he's certainly not going to displace Petr Cech any time soon. He's nowhere near as good a player as Thibaut Courtois at the moment either, although it's always a bit hard to predict how goalkeepers will develop. Still, Courtois is already a borderline world class player, so Butland would have to exceed all potential expectations in order to ever move ahead of the Belgian in the Chelsea pecking order.
If this report is true, I'd have to think the idea is for Butland to remain with Birmingham for the rest of the season, as both Ross Turnbull and Henrique Hilario are both still on the books until the end of the season. Both are out of contract at season's end though, so Chelsea will almost certainly be looking for a new backup keeper at some point in the near future. Butland would be an upgrade in terms of talent, so in that regard it would be great for Chelsea.
This move would seemingly make far less sense for Butland, as a move to Chelsea would see him go from a first choice keeper to a backup that will likely see only a handful of starts per season. I'm sure Butland is a confident kid that believes he'd eventually be capable of displacing anyone, but the reality of the situation is that he's going to struggle to see minutes with the group of keepers that Chelsea already have.
While another young goalkeeper is hardly the most pressing of needs for Chelsea, if Butland is available for cheap and genuinely interested in joining Chelsea, it would be a bit silly for Chelsea to pass up the chance to add him to their ranks. He's young, talented, homegrown, and already better than Turnbull or Hilario. This is one rumor that I'm really hoping has some legs to it.