Stoke City are hoping to avoid a bid from Chelsea for their first-choice goalkeeper, England international Jack Butland, who’s set to rejoin the Potters this weekend after his post-World Cup vacation. (He served as backup to Jordan Pickford but did not play a single minute.)
New Stoke manager Gary Rowett admits that if a “big club” like the Blues would come in, there’s little they could do to hang on to the 25-year-old, especially as a recently relegated club. England internationals tend not to play for second division clubs, and both Stoke and Butland surely know that.
“I understand good players are going to linked with good clubs, which is great, that shows the level of player we’ve got at this club. It shows the level Jack Butland is at as a young keeper and that clubs might potentially look at him.
“He’s like any player. When I was a player, if the top club comes in for you, then you’re going to be interested. We want ambitious players and if a player isn’t ambitious then probably they shouldn’t be here in the first place. But unless a top club comes in with a top bid, I don’t think Jack would see that (a move) as a good alternative,
“If the unthinkable happens, and Jack ends up leaving, which again I will reiterate I don’t want it to happen, then we would replace him with a top-quality goalkeeper ourselves. We want to try and keep our best players, but there’s times all across Europe where occasionally a deal will get done where everybody thinks it makes sense.
“If those deals are put to the club and they say to me `what do you think?’ then we’ll have that discussion.”
So no Chelsea bid yet, which would have to be a precursor to any move.
But if we are to pursue this angle, we might actually want to do it soon, as the Potters may be willing to sell but not at the last hour.
“Any of those deals, you can’t control when they happen, but if we get to the last few days of the window, it wouldn’t be something we’d entertain.”
-Gary Rowett; source: Stoke Sentinel
While Butland is no one’s idea of a happy solution to the Courtois situation, I’m not sure there is such a thing at this point. The list of goalkeepers who are as good or better than Courtois is very short and the list of those who are near his level isn’t all that much longer either. Alisson was available, but he’s gone to Liverpool. Oblak is a pipedream. And that leaves us where we are currently, with an expiring contract and probably no extension.
Incidentally, Chelsea once came close to signing Butland, back in January 2013, when he was just a 20-year-old promising player at Birmingham City. We even had a bid accepted, but Butland made the smart decision to sign with Stoke City instead. That decision has paid dividends both for himself and Chelsea as well: it allowed Courtois to have a clear path to taking over from Čech that following summer, and it also got us Begović as backup in 2015, after he was made expendable by Butland.
Will Butland now make his Chelsea move, five years in the making? It sure doesn’t seem like it at the moment, though as we saw with new third goalkeeper Rob Green, we can move quickly in the transfer market when we actually want to.