The January transfer window threw up little in the way of surprises, unless of course you’re Peter Odemwingie.
But among the more unexpected deals was Jack Butland’s switch from Birmingham City to Stoke City - although Butland will remain at St. Andrew's on loan for the remainder of the season.
Butland’s departure from struggling Birmingham was not much of a surprise, but his eventual destination was a little unexpected, as the England stopper has been on the radar of top clubs for some time.
It appeared he was destined to join one of England’s elite, but the 19-year-old keeper has opted for Tony Pulis' side with the belief that he will have more chance of securing regular first-team football in the long run.
Stoke seemed an unlikely destination for Butland, especially given their exceptional defensive record this term that has been largely down to the form of Asmir Begovic, who was himself linked with a January switch.
Stoke managed to hold on to the Bosnian international, but seem resigned to losing him come the summer.
Given Butland's refusal to speak to Chelsea over his pathway into the first-team being blocked by Petr Cech and the on-loan Atletico Madrid stopper, Thibaut Courtois, it's not unreasonable to assume that he has been given assurances from Pulis that he will be the Potters' first choice goalkeeper next season.
Does this mean that Begovic’s departure is a case of when, not if?
His reputation has continued to grow since moving to Stoke from Portsmouth in 2010, in which time he has racked up nearly 100 appearances for the club and established himself as Bosnia’s number one.
Throughout the January transfer window, the Serb was linked with a move to Manchester United, with Manchester City also reported to be involved, and although the move failed to materialise, The Mirror are reporting that Sir Alex Ferguson will push through a £15m move in the summer to solve United’s goalkeeping problems.
David de Gea has come in for wide criticism since his move to Old Trafford two seasons ago, and the consensus has been that Begovic would be a direct replacement for the Spaniard although his arrival is more likely to signal the end for Anders Lindegaard, who has fallen out of favour in recent times.
Begovic would provide experience in an important position and could be used to aid De Gea’s development, allowing Ferguson to take the Spanish protégé out of the limelight as and when required.
The noises coming out of Old Trafford are that the club are fully behind De Gea and the signing of Begovic should not be seen as the end of the line for the young starlet, with many backing De Gea to become one of the world's top keepers in time.
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