By Graham Hill
VILLA look to be the favourites to sign Stoke and England keeper Jack Butland.
Rumours that a deal was completed last week were wide of the mark, but Villa’s interest in the 26-year-old former Blues goalkeeper is genuine.
The Daily Mail say that Villa are more likely to snap up Butland than Bournemouth or Crystal Palace who are also in the race for a player who is desperate to return to the Premier League to enhance his England ambitions and raise his profile.
Villa boss looked set to sign Neil Etheridge from Cardiff but their initial bid was rejected and they do not appear to have increased it.
But Butland’s obvious desire to play Premier League football again would make Villa a good choice for him as well.
He said last month before what look to be his final games for Stoke: “I always will and always have given everything to the club, but I need to be in the Premier League.
“I tried to get the club back there, but I know where I need to be, to be in this squad, and if something arises that is the right thing for me I have to seriously consider it. It’s a short career and I can quickly find myself out of this squad if I’m not careful
“So yeah, that’s my mindset, I need to be in the Premier League.”
Former Potters keeper Steve Simonsen told the Stoke Sentinel: “It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a club could could offer 30million – the same as Everton paid for Jordan Pickford – for Jack.
“If that sort of money was offered to Stoke I think they would find it very, very difficult to turn down.
“For Jack, it’s a very difficult decision, but it’s one he’s obviously got to make at some point.”