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Chelsea bag Stoke City stopper Asmir Begovic

Chelsea have announced the signing of Stoke City custodian Asmir Begovic, with the Blues purchasing the Bosnia and Herzegovina international for a reported fee of £8m, on an four-year deal.

The Potters post protector has long been linked with pastures new but makes this surprising switch to Stamford Bridge to take over from now Arsenal keeper Petr Cech as back-up for Chelsea number one Thibaut Courtois, far from assured of regular starts for his new club.

“I would like to say thank you to everyone at Stoke Football club, the chairman and Coates family, Mark Hughes and Tony Pulis, goalkeeper coach Andy Quy, all my team mates and especially the fans who have made me and my family so welcome,” stated Begovic, who will don the number one shirt at Stamford Bridge.

“I have loved my time at Stoke, but feel I had the opportunity for me to continue to develop and challenge myself as a player.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved during my time at Stoke, and it has been a great team of players to work with. I wish you all the best for the season ahead.”

At 28, the talented stopper, formerly of Bournemouth, Ipswich Town and Portsmouth, has plenty in the tank and is more than capable of being number one in his own right at another elite club.

Begovic, who has 40 caps for the Golden Lilies, will undoubtedly push younger peer Courtois for the top spot, however and, by opting to join the Blues will have his first shot at playing Champions League football and landing major silverware.

Premier League champions Chelsea now boast incredible strength in depth in net following this signing, as commanding keeper Begovic has kept 50 clean sheets in 173 appearances for Stoke, and will bring bark and bite to the Blues’ backline.

As part of the deal, the Potters will loan Dutch box-to-box midfield talent Marco van Ginkel who, after recovering from serious injury, also had a temporary stint with Italian giants AC Milan last term. Mark Hughes should now have a full season to restore the highly-rated Netherlands international, who was reportedly coveted by Newcastle United, Southampton and Sunderland back to his best.

Van Ginkel’s arrival comes as a major boost after the loss of midfield shield Steven N’Zonzi to Europa League holders Sevilla, though Begovic’s exit from the Britannia Stadium is to be sweetened by Aston Villa goalie Shay Given joining on a two-year contract. English young-gun Jack Butland is also expected to fight for the Potters’ number one jersey.