So, Jack Butland has gone to Stoke – or, at least, he’ll move full time to the Britannia Stadium at the end of the season.
During Butland’s protracted exit from Birmingham City, it was reported that Liverpool were interested in signing the young English goalkeeper and that was completely understandable. Brendan Rodgers has spent the transfer-window adding to his squad with young talent, essentially players who can grow and mature together – and Butland would have fitted into that model really nicely.
Jose Reina has contributed a huge amount during the eight years he’s been in England, but the end of his time at Anfield is sooner rather than later – the last eighteen months have seen uncharacteristic and regular errors creep into the game, and there’s a sense that he’s not mentally at the same level that he was. At 30, he’s too young to be in terminal decline as an athlete, and the source of his diminished reliability would appear to be psychological rather than physical.
On top of which, there are growing suggestions that the player covets a move back to Spain at the end of the season – which, obviously, would Brendan Rodgers with a hole to fill in the first-team. With all due respect to Brad Jones and Peter Gulacsi, neither are realistic long-term options for a club of Liverpool’s size and ambition.
That’s why the decision not to move for Butland is so strange. Who knows, Rodgers may have somebody else lined-up and may well already know how he’s going to fill the position – but Butland represented a very economically-priced, talented, home-grown option.
It’s by no means a disaster, of course it isn’t, but it’s just a little shocking to see the club pass on someone who suits their strategy so well.