Manchester City are said to be set to bid for young Birmingham City goalkeeper Jack Butland, but they could face competition from Liverpool and Southampton.
Reports are suggesting that Roberto Mancini is eyeing up the young English stopper as an understudy to current England No1 Joe Hart.
The Premier League champions are lining up a £6 million move for the 19-year-old who but are reportedly interested in loaning him back to his current club to keep him playing regular games, so as not to impede his development.
Speculation that Mancini is concerned with the lack of competition that Hart has on his position in the first-team only increases the likelihood that he will make the keeper one of his primary targets in January.
Birmingham would likely grab the deal offered to them with both hands – they currently sit uncomfortably close to relegation, placed 19th in the Championship with a number of debts to address.
A buy-to-loan deal would be a win-win situation for all parties and certainly preferable to a simple and tradition sale to a Premier League club. Birmingham could take the money and re-invest in their squad as they look to re-gain their form and promotion ambitions.
The player would continue to develop at a club he knows and can continue to improve via regular first-team football rather than siting on the bench, playing second fiddle at a big club.
And City could rest on their laurels; secure in the knowledge they have a backup plan should anything happen Joe Hart.
But the Citizens may face tough competition, however – Southampton, and Liverpool are both understood to be preparing bids for the youngster who, along with Fraser Forster and Hart are England’s best prospects between the sticks.
Roy Hodgson called Butland into his England squad for the international friendly against Italy – making him the youngest ever goalkeeper to play for England at just 19 years and 158 days old and, whilst he conceded a goal to a Daniele de Rossi header and was replaced at half time, he’ll have been pleased to have made history and played for his country.
image: © illarterate