Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland has dismissed speculation linking him with a move to Arsenal after having not played for nearly a year with an ankle injury. The 24-year-old suffered a fractured ankle in the 3-2 win over Germany in Berlin in March 2016 and has twice undergone surgery to correct the long-standing problem.
The ex-Birmingham City and Leeds United stopper has therefore not played for his club for more than a year, and has not featured this season despite returning to training. Potters boss Mark Hughes has warned however that he could miss the remainder of the campaign as he attempts to regain full fitness.
Butland's inactivity has not detered links with a move away from The Britannia Stadium. The Daily Mirror understands Arsene Wenger will mark signing a new two-year deal with Arsenal by staging a £100m ($125m) overhaul of his squad, which will include recruiting Butland from Stoke to replace David Ospina.
But having not played for nearly 12 months, Butland has laughed off the speculation and insists talk of a move to Arsenal is far from his priority. "I must have done all right this past year, I can't remember," he said, according to the Stoke Sentinel. "That's football. It's not anywhere near the transfer window yet, but that's the way papers work. I just take it as a positive that I'm still thought about in the football world after so long out.
"But my focus is on Stoke, always has been, and playing well. I'm just worried about getting playing again, getting the gloves and boots back on. My only focus is playing again for Stoke, getting some game time before the end of the season and hopefully start getting back into the England side as well."
Arsenal are also reportedly lining up moves for Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe, Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus and Celtic's top scorer Moussa Dembele in an effort to cover for the expected losses of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. The report adds the massive investment will be made with the view to "try to take the club to the next level".