Asmir Begovic may only have been tenuously linked to Liverpool over the past few months, one of a handful of maybes floated without much conviction by rumour mongers in search of a name that might gain some traction, but to hear the goalkeeper tell it today he's as close to being a Liverpool player as one can get. Minus the whole playing for the club part, at least.
Speaking to the Bosnian press this week, the goalkeeper who at least for the now remains under contract at Stoke let it be known he wants to "start preparing on July 10, with all the players of Liverpool." Whether this is because there's a deal nearly in place that would make that happen or because he just really wants to be a Liverpool player remains slightly less clear.
The 25-year-old Bosnian had another strong year for the always defensively sound Potters, starting all 38 Premier League games and making 110 stops on 155 shots. Despite Stoke's best defensive efforts, though, the 45 goals conceded were two more than Brad Jones and Pepe Reina combined to allow for Liverpool.
Reina, however, faced considerably fewer shots, and only made 73 stops on 107 shots in his 31 appearances in an unusually injury-troubled season for the Reds. That Reina faced fewer shots than Begovic, then, gives the Bosnian 70.9% to 68.2% edge when it comes to save percentage. Liverpool's current stopper recorded 14 clean sheets to Begovic's 12.
If Liverpool's interest in Begovic is genuine, it likely signals the end of Reina's time at Anfield. Though after Jack Butland arrived at Stoke in January and cast Begovic's own future in doubt, there remains the chance that the player is actively seeking a move rather than signalling that a deal is nearly in place.