Man Utd to beat Blues to Asmir Begovic as keeper conundrum continues
Stoke City stopper Asmir Begovic could well find himself in a transfer tug-of-war this summer, as 11/2 title chances Manchester United are reportedly ready to derail the keeper’s mooted move to Premier League champions Chelsea (8/5 with Coral to retain).
The Blues are believed to have had a £6m bid for the Bosnia and Herzegovina international rejected, with the Potters prepared to hold out for a higher fee of around £10m plus a player on loan.
Mark Hughes’ men certainly hold all the cards here, as the Midlands club already have a ready-made replacement for number one Begovic in Jack Butland, who is ready to contest for a place between the posts.
Chelsea certainly require a new custodian to compete with Thibaut Courtois following Petr Cech’s London crossing to rivals Arsenal, and Jose Mourinho seems to be sparing no expense in his quest for a back-up, as the Blues are said to be ready to return with an increased £8m offer.
While 40-capped Begovic will no doubt be bullish about his chances of dislodging Belgian star Courtois at Stamford Bridge, sitting on the bench is more likely and a move to Man Utd to battle former Barcelona goal guard Victor Valdes would seem the best path to game time.
Watch Begovic’s best saves:
Red Devils post protector David de Gea is of course still at the Manchester club for now, with the keeper confirming he will return to training at Carrington. However, the sought-after Spanish star’s transfer saga to Real Madrid continues to cause Louis van Gaal problems.
The Dutch coach must move quickly if Man Utd are to win this game of bluff with Los Blancos, as stealing Begovic from under Chelsea’s noses may see the Mancunians lose their edge in any negotiations over their current first-choice keeper.
However, allowing Mourinho to strengthen so significantly in nets while missing out on highly-rated Begovic, a target long-linked to Old Trafford before Van Gaal arrived, could also prove risky.
Former Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Ipswich Town talent Begovic is, unlike many keepers from the continent United are linked to, a proven Premier League goalie who is strong at set pieces and no slouch with his feet. Also available for a reasonable fee, the Red Devils would be acquiring a reliable and commanding presence who could steady the ship should De Gea depart as expected.
Having kept seven clean sheets last campaign, 28-year-old Begovic, who has made over 170 appearances for Stoke, did not have his best overall season for the Potters but has appeared able to progress at a Champions League club for some time. Could this summer finally see the stopper make a switch and step up to European football?