It’s been widely reported and almost universally accepted at this point that Liverpool Football Club will scour the transfer market for an upgrade at the goalkeeper position over the summer, notwithstanding Loris Karius’ strides towards eclipsing Simon Mignolet in recent weeks. Much of the speculation had surrounded AS Roma’s Alisson Becker and the anticipated hefty price tag that will no doubt be a point of contention if Liverpool do indeed pursue the Brazilian keeper.
An old name in these discussions is now back to the forefront. The Mirror have suggested that Stoke City’s Jack Butland is the man for a Jürgen Klopp, and that the combination of the England keeper’s Premier League experience plus the player’s preference for Liverpool means a £40 million deal is around the corner. Arsenal are also reportedly in the mix, but are falling behind in this particular race too.
While it’s certainly conceivable that Liverpool might be monitoring Butland - who will be in the mix to start for England this summer - there are plenty of reasons to doubt that the Stoke City man is at the top of Klopp’s list. While Butland is a competent shot stopper, it’s not clear that he would represent a significant improvement over Karius or Alisson in the distribution department. There have also been the odd glaring errors in recent performances - the kind that Liverpool supporters really don’t want to see any more from their keepers.
And then there’s the fact that Klopp himself hasn’t exactly been effusive in his public assessment of the player. Could the manager be wearing his poker face and playing at a bit of misdirection? Possibly, but consider what he said back in January:
“I will only mention one name,” said Klopp, addressing rumors back when there was a clamor to bring in keeper reinforcements during the prior window. “Everyone talks about him with us and that is Butland. I only saw the [Manchester United] game. Fantastic goalkeeper but was he perfect? No. He wasn’t in that game. But everyone says, ‘Still better than our boys.’”
Add to this mix the fact that observers closer to the club are skeptical about the rumored interest, and it’s difficult to see Liverpool splashing the cash for Butland. The only thing that’s reasonably certain at this point is that there will be new name competing with Karius next season.