A new British transfer record for a goalkeeper could be set this summer, as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal prepare to do battle over the signature of Stoke’s Asmir Begovic.
As the spending power of each of these clubs is wholly obvious, the Potters are set to demand at least £15m for the stopper, whom they paid Portsmouth £3.25m for three years ago.
And that fee could even rise closer to £20m, should a bidding war ensue between the trio of chasing clubs, which United are thought to lead.
Sir Alex Ferguson has renewed confidence in his number one David de Gea, after the 22-year-old improved his form over the course of the season after a shaky start.
But the legendary Scot still recognises the flaws within his Spanish stopper’s game, and feels Begovic would provide ideal competition for a spot in between the sticks.
Ferguson is also ready to oversee the departure of Anders Lindegaard this summer, and so the capture of another goalkeeper is a priority in the close season.
It was the Red Devils who cracked the previous record barrier for a ‘keeper with De Gea’s signing last year, when they paid Atletico Madrid £18.3m for his services.
But that fee can potentially be eclipsed if Chelsea and Arsenal do ramp up their interest in 25-year-old Bosnian international Begovic, who Stoke are willing to let go in light of Jack Butland’s impending arrival at the Britannia Stadium.
And there looks to be every chance of that occurring, with Blues reserve stopper Thibaut Courtois potentially heading for the Stamford Bridge exit, and Gunners chief Arsene Wenger losing faith in his number one Wojciech Szczęsny.
Courtois has yet to make his Chelsea debut, but after impressing in two seasons on loan at Atletico, feels he is ready for regular first-team football, and could leave to get it.
And Szczęsny’s recent omission from Arsenal’s starting line-up suggests his days at the Emirates are numbered, with Wenger making no secret of his desire to land a goalkeeper this summer.
As aforementioned, Stoke will not stand in the way of Begovic leaving in the close season, but will hope a transfer battle ensues in order for them to receive as big a fee as possible for their prize asset.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.