Update (10:44 GMT) – Jack Butland has declined the opportunity to join Chelsea, claiming he won’t get any chance to play first team football in the near future. Birmingham and Chelsea have agreed on a £3.5 million transfer fee, but Butland’s reluctance is so far getting in the way.
It’s a well known secret that Chelsea are searching for their future goalkeeper – Petr Cech isn’t getting any younger, or better, while Ross Turnbull isn’t the man to replace him when it comes to the long-term. Jack Butland of Birmingham, on the other hand, might be just the answer.
The soon to be 20 year old goalkeeper has impressed many this season, finally winning the spot in the lineup of Birmingham City after spending last season on loan at Cheltenham. Butland played in all five matches for England in the Olympics and has already won a cap for the national team, playing in the friendly match vs Italy, becoming the youngest ever England international goalkeeper at 19 years 158 days, breaking a record that stood for over 120 years.
Birmingham are in big financial problems, which might mean that despite the interest from a rich club like Chelsea and possibly also from Manchester United, Butland might be available for only £3.5 million. His record in the championship – only 5 clean sheets in 29 matches means that he’s not exactly Lev Yashin reborn, not at the moment, but for that kind of price, he’s certainly worth the gamble. Even if he’s purchased now or during the summer, Butland will probably be loaned out to earn some playing time while Cech stays between the posts.
Chelsea own another very talented goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, who is also considered to be one of the top young goalkeepers in the world today, doing a very good job in Spain with Atletico Madrid. Not everyone is convinced Courtois is the future at Chelsea, and there’s already a lot of interest in him in the La Liga, including from Barcelona who are also on the lookout for their next goalkeeper.
Chelsea also own 37 year old Henrique Hilario, but he’s been their third option off the bench for over six years by now, used only in case of an extreme emergency and injury crisis.