Stoke manager Tony Pulis has spoken of the reasons that he was able to lure goalkeeper Jack Butland to the Britannia Stadium despite their being serious interest from Chelsea.
Butland came to prominence while playing on loan for Cheltenham and was handed the chance to represent Team GB at the London Olympics. He had never even made an appearance for his parent club Birmingham at this point but was soon attracting interest from a number of Premier league sides.
Chelsea decided to make an offer during the January transfer window but Butland rejected the move and instead decided to join Stoke who agreed to loan him back to Birmingham for the remainder of the season.
With Asmir Begovic currently impressing as the Stoke number one, Pulis was quizzed on why Butland decided to join Stoke instead of a top four club like Chelsea.
"I think he's looked the opportunity given to [Ryan] Shawcross when he was a nineteen-year-old coming into the club and playing for the first team," said Pulis. "Marc Wilson as a twenty-year-old coming into the club and playing, Steven N'Zonzi is only 24, so we are starting to put together a really exciting group of young players.
"Add to that Butland and Brek Shea, a young international left sided player, who we think has got the identity suitable for our club. We hope that group will grow alongside the football club."
There have been suggestions that Begovic could leave at the end of the season and that Butland was signed to be his successor. However, Pulis has made it clear that they had been tracking the England international for some time and simply found the opportunity to sign him too good to turn down.
"We think we've got three wonderful goalkeepers at the club. Begovic,[Thomas] Sorensen and Carlo Nash have all been fantastic for us but we've followed Butland for eighteen months, and we think he is an outstanding young goalkeeper," added Pulis.
"To get him at the price that we've got him, we think that's a steal, and although he's got a lot of work to do yet, we think it's a gamble worth taking.
"He's a committed lad who wants to be a professional footballer; he's got the natural ability and determination that is crucial in life to achieve what you want. Players like that are always welcome at Stoke, especially at that age."
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