Is the path now clear for Arsenal to sign Begovic?

Despite comments from the player saying otherwise, a substantial offer from the Gunners could tempt Stoke and Begovic into a move.

Most transfer rumours only do the rounds until a better one comes along. A certain player is linked with a certain club only for as long as it takes to shift a day’s worth of newspapers, and then it is quickly forgotten.

But a few rumours stick around: like Arsenal’s apparent interest in Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic. That is a rumour with legs and with substance.

The Gunners have been linked with a move for the Bosnian goalkeeper all season. And with reported competitors for his signature Manchester United seemingly happy with the continuing development of David De Gea, the path is now clear for Arsene Wenger to make his move.

It may seem strange to base a speculative report on dismissive comments, to hear a player say he is happy where he is and then suggest he moves on. But Arsenal are a club that requires small fixes rather than wholesale changes.

A top quality ‘keeper is one of those fixes. And Wenger would be foolish not to test Stoke’s resolve.

Begovic has declared he is happy at the Britannia, with the caveat all savvy footballers slip in and hope no one notices.

All the speculation is flattering and nice,” he told the Sentinel newspaper, “but I am focused on my job here. As long as Stoke want me, I am contracted. I know football is a business and we will see what happens.”

And now for the caveat:

I do have ambitions to play at the highest level and test myself if the opportunity arises. I can’t think too much ahead. I am just thinking about here. I am contracted and there’s nothing more I can say.”

With the arrival of Birmingham’s Jack Butland, Pulis now has two outstanding ‘keepers to call on. And while Begovic is more experienced, it is unlikely Butland will have signed for Stoke had he not been given certain assurances.

It was widely reported that a number of top clubs were after Butland’s signature. So in short, he could have sat on the bench anywhere, surely he chose Stoke because the promise was of something more.

While Butland may go on loan next season, it seems highly unlikely he would have taken on a battle for a starting birth – in either the short or the long term – with such a young rival.

So while Pulis continues to dismiss the rumours out of hand, and Begovic reiterates his contentment, Arsenal should make an offer anyway. They would be signing someone who could excel at the Emirates for the next decade.

No one’s rung me up to ask about Asmir,” Pulis has said, “and if they did the price would be…I can’t even think. They’d have to spend a hell of a lot of money to take him away. I couldn’t even give you a price because I haven’t even thought about it.”

Other managers would simply say he is not for sale; unless of course Pulis was saying quite the opposite.

Do Gunners fans want Begovic in goal next season?  Or should Wenger look elsewhere or stick with what he has?

image: © ronnie macdonald

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