Begovic to bale?

Posted by James Whittaker

Asmir BegovicGettyImagesAsmir Begovic has been in fine form this season

By that I don’t mean that Tony Pulis is going to try the Bosnian on the left flank (though it wouldn't surprise me) - more that his exit from the Potteries following Jack Butland's signing has an air of inevitability about it.

With the arrival of the in-demand Butland, it appeared the writing was on the wall in respect of our current No. 1, who has been subject to increasing interest from the country's top clubs. The fact that Butland turned down Chelsea as he wouldn’t get any playing time only added fuel to the fire and, whilst Begovic was quick to dismiss any exit when asked about it on deadline day, he has now come out stating that he expects to leave in the summer.

Asmir's most likely destination would appear to be Manchester United as David de Gea continues to struggle with the demands of the English game. Sir Alex Ferguson has been impressed with Begovic's authority and consistency at the back for Stoke, and he has seen little of the same from the Spaniard’s time at Old Trafford.

In terms of what Begovic might cost, I've seen various amounts reported from the frankly ridiculous £8 million to the more appropriate £15 million. Some Man Utd fans have baulked at the higher figure, saying that Stoke are being unrealistic, but the fact is that Asmir is arguably the best keeper in the country and, given he is being targeted as a better option than a player that cost them £18 million, I don’t think £15 million is out of the question in the slightest.

In fact, you could even see a scenario where he goes for more than that if a bidding war erupts for the tall Bosnian, who is also being linked with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. Wherever he goes he will go without an ounce of animosity from the Potteries faithful having firmly cemented that position as his own in the last 12 months or so. It was a shaky start when Chelsea first came calling, and from that moment on you got the impression that Asmir has always had his eye on move to one of the league's leading lights. But by getting Butland in, we are planning ahead and sensibly so - Jack is the most promising English 'keeper around and, whilst his move was largely facilitated by his Stoke-mad agent, it still represents a significant coup for the club.

Pulis, for all his faults, has always managed to sign good goalies, with past successes including Ed de Goey, Mark Crossley, Steve Simonsen, Thomas Sorensen and of course the current incumbent Begovic. Stoke fans will be hoping that we can add Jack to that list, and with Shawcross and Huth in front of him and the watchful eye of the country’s greatest ever 'keeper in the stands over him, I’m sure he’ll do exactly that.

Vis Unita Fortior

ESPN Conversations