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Liverpool FC Transfer News: Stoke Manager Warns Suitors over Jack Butland

Mark Hughes claims he wouldn't even accept £20 million for the rumoured Liverpool goalkeeping target.

Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Should Jürgen Klopp look at upgrading Simon Mignolet? The 27-year-old is an excellent shot stopper who has grown in confidence this year, earning recognition from former players for his form last season. There are still moments where he gets it wrong as witnessed against Bordeaux at Anfield, but he's the Premier League's calendar year clean sheet king. His communication, distribution, command of the penalty box, and consistency still remain questionable for a side looking to make improvements under a charismatic and demanding manager.

There are a number of options in the Bundesliga at a time when German football is producing talented young goalkeepers, but Stoke City's Jack Butland is an English candidate who could be a solution for Liverpool. The 22-year-old stopper has been having an outstanding season so far in the Premier League, making a lot of crucial saves and appearing commanding in goal. Mark Hughes let Asmir Begović join Chelsea in the knowledge that a capable successor was already within Stoke's ranks. It's probably why his response to rumours of Butland's departure was so bullish.

"Jack's going nowhere," Hughes said in response to the rumours surrounding his goalkeeper's future. "He's progressing well but he's very early into his career development as a number one keeper. People are aware of him - and they have been for a long time. Jack forced his way into the England squad when he was 19 but he needs a season-in-season-out of week-in-week-out in the Premier League. He's had a great career progression, every step he's taken he's dealt with. Now it's about consolidating himself in a very good Premier League team. That's the challenge for him."

Butland is Joe Hart's understudy in the England set up and has started to play regularly in the Premier League. It's unlikely he will move clubs before Euro 2016, that's based on the assumption that the player and his representatives are sensible people. A four-year contract was signed earlier this year, which prohibits a similar situation where Liverpool profited with Nathaniel Clyne this summer. If an English player is young and talented with a year or two left on his contract, silly premiums usually disappear for an expensive but acceptable deal to emerge. That won't be the case with Butland until 2017 as things stand.

Everton are reportedly looking at Butland as a long-term heir to Tim Howard but would not be able to offer the same financial package and opportunities for regular European football that Liverpool could. Also, as promising and earnest as Roberto Martínez is, Jürgen Klopp is simply irresistible. Both clubs would have to break their respective transfer records for a goalkeeping purchase as Hughes said on a possible £20 million fee: "Do I think that's a fair value? No. We wouldn't place a value on him anyway."

Those words are perfectly natural and part of the transfer dance, but at the rate Butland's progressing, he could be a goalkeeper of real quality by his mid-twenties—a valuable asset for any side looking for defensive consistency. If Liverpool are looking to improve, the reality is that some decent or good players who are regular starters at the club will have to become squad player or sold to make way for better players. In some positions, such as fullback, the issue isn't the quality of the starters but the depth. In goal, does Simon Mignolet provide the right quality for where Jürgen Klopp wants to take Liverpool? If that's not the case, can he improve at 27 to meet the former Borussia Dortmund's long-terms plans?

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