Both goalkeepers are being targeted by the top top teams in the country this summer with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all potentially in the market for additions between the sticks.
Both stoppers are 25 years of age and have at least another decade at the highest level to play in their careers. Both are reportedly seeking a ‘step up’ to bigger clubs amidst speculation over their futures.
Stoke finished out this term 13th in league and Sunderland narrowly avoided relegation to the Championship finishing 17th after a disappointing season under Martin O’Neill who was replaced by Paulo Di Canio and, following a poor run of form Stoke sacked manager Tony Pulis.
Coincidentally, Stoke have signed Jack Butland from Birmingham in January and he’ll likely be brought into their first team setup next term. The clubs’ acquisition of the highly-rated young English keeper hints that Stoke are resigned to losing Begovic this summer as rumours persist linking him with a move to Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, Mignolet is understood to be a top target for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. The Gunners have had trouble with their stoppers this term and the boss dropped young Polish number one Wojceich Szczesny to bring in his elder and out-of-favour compatriot Lukasz Fabianksi.
However, Fabianski’s contract expires this summer and he’ll likely be let go – 23 year-old Szczesny is undoubtedly a very talented goalkeeper but he needs some strong competition for his place to maintain his focus and development at Arsenal.
Third-choice Vito Mannone featured in the earlier stages of the season, by default as both of the others were injured and young Damian Martinez is not quite ready to make the step up to the first team.
Over at Anfield, Pepe Reina continues to flutter his eyelids at Barcelona and would surely run through brick walls to the Nou Camp if a bid came in.
So Liverpool will be well advised to consider their options, and it is claimed they are already doing so.
Begovic conceded 45 goals in the Premier League this term compared to Mignolet’s 54. However that will likely come down to Sunderland’s poorer defensive displays this term. Stoke have not exactly been their watertight selves of late but they still protect their keeper better than Sunderland have.
Remarkably, Mignolet kept 11 clean sheets at Sunderland this term, whilst Begovic kept 12. However, Begovic made 110 saves overall compared to Mignolet’s 149, setting their save percentages at 70% and 73% respectively.
Neither of them saved penalties (they faced 10 between them all over the duration). Begovic caught an immense 86 crosses, missing none – a stat beaten only by Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan this term. Mignolet caught just over half of the crosses (47) and missed 3.
Begovic is valued around £8 million which Liverpool are reportedly willing to pay whilst Arsenal are apparently preparing a £10 million swoop for Mignolet. Who’s the better goalkeeper? There’s very little in it and the slight differences in their stats are likely due to the defences in front of them.
For my money, I’d go for Begovic – he’s arguably better in the air and has a better overall command of his area. Mignolet did make more saves and he definitely had his work cut out for him with the Black Cats this term.
I think in the future Mignolet will surpass Begovic – especially on the world stage – the Belgian is the first-choice for his country and they will challenge the usual suspects in a very strong way for the World Cup next year – they have a golden generation at present.
image: © ronnie macdonald