Jack Butland insists he was right to snub Chelsea in January.
The 20-year-old is regarded as one of the best talents in the country, and he is expected to challenge Manchester City’s Joe Hart for the England number one jersey for years to come. Having impressed during his time at Birmingham City, Chelsea had identified the youngster as Petr Cech’s long-term replacement at Stamford Bridge.
But despite having an offer accepted for his signature during the January transfer window, Butland didn’t even talk to the European champions for fear of a lack of first team opportunities. Instead, he opted to join Stoke City, even though he is behind Asmir Begovic and, to a lesser extent, Thomas Sorensen in the pecking order.
Indeed, the England international, who won his first and to date only cap in the friendly against Italy last year, has been loaned back to Birmingham so he can continue his footballing education. This has made some question his decision to reject one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, but he insists he made the right decision.
“It was a very important decision to make in terms of when and where I would move next,” said Butland. “Turning down Chelsea was, and wasn’t, a difficult decision. Chelsea is a fantastic place and a great place to play football. They are the European champions, but I feel I can develop my game better at Stoke than I can at Chelsea at the minute. It is as simple as that. Chelsea didn’t do anything wrong, I just didn’t think it suited me right now.”
There is likely to be movement in regards to goalkeepers with Chelsea in the summer. Whilst there is no suggestion Cech could be sold, it is clear there is a need for a better back-up option than Ross Turnbull. Thibaut Courtois, the Belgian international, has impressed whilst on loan at Atletico Madrid, yet he will be reluctant to return to his parent club to sit on the bench, especially with the World Cup on the agenda at the end of next season.