While Manchester United were quiet on transfer deadline day, as Sir Alex Ferguson promised, the wheels may well have been put in motion for a major summer arrival.
Stoke’s signing of Birmingham City goalkeeper Jack Butland has raised the specter of reported United target Asmir Begovic departing the Potters at the end of the season.
Butland reportedly turned down a move to Chelsea because of a desire for regular first-team action and the fact that Stoke have purchased the 19-year-old but loaned him back for the remainder of this campaign suggests that he will become first-choice at the Britannia Stadium for the next campaign.
The likes of BBC Sport’s Ben Smith have raised the possibility that Butland’s transfer suggests Stoke realize that Begovic will be on his way.
Speaking on transfer deadline day, however, Begovic suggested that Butland merely strengthened the squad.
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"I would look forward to it if he comes,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “He's another great talent.
"We have a good group of goalkeepers already here and it would be good to have the competition around. He's a big talent and I'm sure he would make us better."
The Bosnian has been repeatedly linked with a move to United, with Ferguson reportedly losing faith that David de Gea will be able to adjust to the physical requirements of the Premier League. It has been suggested that both Real Madrid and Barcelona would be interested in taking De Gea back to Spain.
Begovic has been among a list of names, also including the likes of Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina, to be linked as a replacement. Only this past weekend, the Daily Mirror claimed that Begovic had his heart set on a move to Old Trafford in the summer.
The 25-year-old has also been linked with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea, but said that he was happy to remain at Stoke for the time being.
“I am in for training today, so I'm looking forward to staying and looking forward to the game at the weekend,” he told Sky Sports News.
"I don't see anything happening now, that time has passed. I'm just concentrating on what I need to do here and then I'll have my popcorn ready to watch you guys tonight to see what happens."