In the summer of 2013, Liverpool were rumoured to be interested in two Premier League ‘keepers to replace the inconsistent Pepe Reina. One was Simon Mignolet, who in the end they would go on to sign from Sunderland for £9M. The other was Asmir Begovic, who was eager to join up but saw his move to Anfield scuppered by Stoke City’s high fee demands.
Two years later, and Begovic is once again being linked to Liverpool by a handful of English tabloids, and while it may simply be a case of recycling old transfer stories, in this case there was never any doubt the last time that Liverpool really were interested in Begovic—and that Begovic was just as interested in joining Liverpool. And this time around, Stoke would likely be looking to make a deal.
Liverpool’s original interest in Begovic was at least in part rumoured to be due to Stoke’s signing of Jack Butland, who it was clear the club saw as their future number one. Now, they might be ready to make that change, as Begovic was dropped last weekend, with manager Mark Hughes saying Butland will start the rest of the way as Stoke, secure in mid-table, look towards their future.
"It wasn’t a big decision," said Hughes of the switch. "It was one of those where I felt it was the right thing to do. I spoke to Jack earlier in the year and said that if I felt there was an opportunity for me to give him game time then I’d do that. It was a good time because it was a game of significance and he needs to be exposed to those sorts of games rather than dead rubber matches."
The switch doesn’t reflect a poor run of form for Begovic—he’s started every other Premier League game this year, conceding 42 goals and earning seven clean sheets—but it does send a signal that the Bosnian number one is now surplus to requirements, with Stoke looking to go younger and English in goal. And that could mean a bargain for Liverpool, who might now be able to pick him up for a sub-£10M fee.
With Mignolet returning to top form in 2015, though—the Belgian now leads the league with 14 clean sheets—it’s hardly clear Begovic would be an upgrade at the position. Certainly the club need a stronger goalkeeper to push Mignolet. Or they need a clear upgrade on the streaky number one. Brining in a similarly talented ‘keeper, though, seems as though it might only lead to trouble.
Still, Liverpool are expected to be in the market for a shot stopped this summer, and with Begovic on the market for a potentially bargain fee, he would make for an intriguing return to a player the club just missed out on two seasons ago.