By Graham Hill
STOKE City have closed the door on any hopes of Villa signing Jack Butland before the end of the transfer window next month.
It now seems certain that Butland will stay in the Championship – despite his ambitions to return to the top flight and seal his place in the England squad.
Stoke boss Nathan Jones has told reporters that the time has passed for any club to do a deal with Butland, 26.
Jones said: “The shut-off time’s gone. Anyone who comes in now, it would leave us short in terms of replacing Jack and bringing another one in.
“So the shut-off time has gone for that.
“No one’s come in and met the value. We haven’t had any official bids, so Jack’s a Stoke player and we’re proud of him. For me he’s the best ‘keeper in the division and he’s definitely top two in the country.”
Jones says the situation has been explained to Butland and the club are not simply being stubborn in refusing to sell a player that they rate at over £20million.
But 20 per cent of any profit Stoke make on the £3.5million paid to Birmingham for Butland in 2013 goes to Blues – which is why they are demanding top price for the player.
Jones said: “I’ve spoken to him. I speak to Jack regularly – we’re fine. If someone had come in with a bid that matched our value then we wouldn’t have stood in Jack’s way.
“But he felt if he wants to further his career he felt he might need to go – I’m not in total agreement with that – but I wouldn’t have stood in the way of that.
“We’d never do that because if Jack is the best goalkeeper in the Championship and if we have the kind of season we believe we can have then his standing won’t decrease or plateau – it will only go higher.”
Villa now look set to go for other targets including Neil Etheridge at Cardiff and Burnley’s Tom Heaton – while suggestions of either an £13million deal or a loan move for Juventus keeper Mattia Perin, are still circulating.
Jones has not totally ruled out Stoke selling Butland if a big, late bid comes in – but he says any bids know are likely to be rejected as it is too late in the window.
Jones said: “That’s what I believe. But that’s a club thing. We don’t envisage that happening because people have said ‘no, we can’t match that valuation.’ So as far as we’re concerned we move on.
“No-one will leave if we don’t want them to leave. We’ve got a good squad, we’re in a good place but we want to add some quality and that hasn’t changed.
“If we can we will, if we can’t, no problem. We have a real good squad in place and we’re happy with that.”