Throughout the transfer window, one rumour that just wouldn't go away was that Liverpool were interested in signing Jack Butland from Birmingham. With the Championship side struggling to stay afloat financially there were always likely to be bargains available, and with Butland their most saleable asset it was only a matter of time before he was sold.
Today that inevitable sale has been confirmed, but rather than heading to Liverpool or Chelsea as many had expected—with Chelsea even having recently had a £3.5M bid for the player accepted by Birmingham only for Butland to turn the move down—the 19-year-old goalkeeper is moving to Stoke City.
Playing time at the Premier League level in the end appears to have been the deciding factor for the player, who now has every chance of starting for his new club where other suitors would likely have sent him straight back to Birmingham for the remainder of the season.
Butland is considered by many to be the best English goalkeeping prospect of his generation, and especially for a fee considerably south of £5M, many Liverpool fans will be disappointed to have missed out on him regardless of the club's long-term prospects of keeping hold of Pepe Reina.
Note: As pointed out in the comments, Stoke may not see Butland as an immediate replacement for Asmir Begovic, though if that is the case it remains likely he will have been assured of the starter's role next season in order for him to accept a move to Stoke City after turning down Chelsea's offer.