From battling with Jordan Pickford to be England’s number one for the 2018 Russia World Cup, to finishing 15th in the Championship with Stoke during the 2019/20 season, it’s been a significant fall from grace for Jack Butland.
The goalkeeper has long been highly-rated by many – as pretty much every young English player is at some point – but looked a shoo-in for a move to a top Premier League side a few years ago when his heroics in between the sticks weren’t enough to keep Stoke City in the top flight.
That move never materialised, however, and he’s been stuck in the second tier of English football ever since the beginning of the 2018/19 season.
A complete lack of confidence – probably brought on by never getting his big move and losing out in the England team – has destroyed his form. He’s looked a shadow of his former self at times and has had to fight on several occasions to regain the number one spot at Stoke, having been dropped on more than one occasion.
A mere nine league clean sheets this season is again disheartening and doesn’t exactly do Butland any favours. Now, Sky Sports report that Stoke are willing to sell him for a fee of just £8-10m this summer, due to him being in the final year of his contract. At just 27, Butland has plenty of time left to make something of his career.
And for such a low fee, the risk is virtually non-existent. If a club is willing to take the gamble and give the once-England number one time to find his feet, it might prove to be an incredible coup. Here’s who should be targeting a surprise swoop for the shot stopper this summer.
The Blues were most heavily linked with Butland in the summer that Stoke were relegated, but a move never came to be after they were put off by the Potters’ asking price.
Their world record fee for Kepa Arrizabalaga hasn’t exactly proved wise, and going back in for Butland isn’t too silly an idea. At worst, he makes for competent backup under Frank Lampard. At best, he rediscovers his confidence and solves Chelsea’s goalkeeping department issues. Although that’s a monumental bit of speculation at this point.
Suitability Rating: 3/10
Despite signing Angus Gunn in the hope that he could push for the number one spot, Alex McCarthy has made the bulk of appearances for Southampton this season.
Ralph Hasenhuttl looks to be building a promising side, and while McCarthy hasn’t proven disastrous, the Saints need an upgrade. Taking a punt on Butland would be the perfect move for both the player and the club, for an inexpensive fee.
Suitability Rating: 5/10
Being wary not to repeat the mistakes they made in their 2018/19 Premier League season, Fulham will be careful in the transfer market this summer.
Marek Rodak took the starting spot from Marcus Bettinelli last season, but another keeper wouldn’t hurt to increase competition. Butland has proven Premier League experience and would have to fight for his spot with Rodak, who impressed in the 2019/20 campaign for the Cottagers.
Suitability Rating: 6/10
It couldn’t have gone more wrong in the goalkeeper department for Aston Villa last season. It was actually so bad that they signed a 37-year-old Pepe Reina for the second half of the campaign – but even he couldn’t fix the problem completely.
Their final day top-flight survival has given them a second chance, and a solid goalkeeper is a must for next season. Again, Butland wouldn’t break the bank and is proven at Premier League level, but Villa would need to stick by him through thick and thin in order to get the best out of him. If they did, it could be a match made in heaven.
He also started his career with Birmingham, which would be a great way to get one over on their crosstown rivals.
Suitability Rating: 7/10
If any manager is capable of suddenly getting the best out of a confidence shot, ego hit but equally as talented goalkeeper, surely it’s Chris Wilder.
Sheffield United are desperate for a starting keeper to call their own after facing the fact that Dean Henderson is destined to stay at Manchester United from now on. Wilder has built an incredible side from nothing and is unlikely to want to break the bank with big name players. Butland could be the man to slot seamlessly into the gap left by Henderson.
Again, it wouldn’t be an overnight success, but if done right, a revived Butland under Wilder could well be another stroke of genius.
Suitability Rating: 8/10