By Graham Hill
THE rumour mill is in full flow after Villa’s promotion – with Stoke City and England keeper Jack Butland the latest player to be linked with Dean Smith’s newly promoted side.
Some would say Jed Steer’s displays in the later stages of the Championship season should earn him a crack at the Premier League.
But with The Sun suggesting that Lovre Kalinic’s Villa career is virtually over before it has really got started, the suggestion is that Smith is eyeing another senior keeper.
And if you can snap up an England international then why would you not go for it.
We have yet to see owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris flexing their financial muscle yet – a cash plus player move for Birmingham winger Jota will not be breaking the bank.
But with Stoke valuing Butland at around £30million, it remains to be seen whether the Villa backers can play in that particular ballpark.
The suggestion is that that can – and it would send out a statement to the Premier League that Villa mean business next season.
Both Crystal Palace and Bournemouth are interested in Butland.
But the former Blues keeper has his home in Cheshire and a move south may not appeal.
Butland, 26, will clearly leave Stoke this summer. And a move to Villa would mean he does not have to uproot his family. Butland became a dad last season.
Also, with England boss Gareth Southgate keeping a close watch on skipper Jack Grealish this season, Butland can see someone else in the squad has ambitions of playing for England.
That will not be happening in the Potteries and Butland has made it clear he must leave Stoke to further his own career.
It makes sense for Smith to at least consider a move for Butland if the cash is there to finance the deal. From what was being said by Villa officials after last week’s win over Derby, you get the impression that there could be more than one marquee signing on the way.