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Jack Butland: Breaking Down Suitors for Young Birmingham Keeper

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17: Jack Butland of Birmingham in action during the npower Championship match between Birmingham City and Hull City at St. Andrews on November 17, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2013

Meet Jack Butland. He's 19 years old, baby-faced, clean-shaven and about to be filthy stinkin' rich.

I mentioned he was 19, right?

The Birmingham City goalkeeper has become a hot commodity in the January transfer window. His team has struggled in front of him, but Butland has flashed enough raw ability to pique the interest of premier teams throughout England.

Birmingham has also struggled financially, which has made him an expendable commodity (per The Daily Star). Let's take a look at some of those who are courting him.

 

Arsenal

Incumbent Keeper: Wojciech Szczesny

It's long been suspected that Arsene Wegner has wanted stiffer competition in net for Wojciech Szczesny. Those rumors have been tough to substantiate, but they certainly lend credence to the Gunnars' interest in Butland.

Arsenal has actually done well on defense this season, conceding just 22 goals in 20 matches. Their plus-18 goal differential is fourth best in the Premiership, suggesting that they might be able to ascend into Champion's League territory this season.

But Arsene Wegner is sick of speculation and unfulfilled promise. He wants to see trophies (per ESPN.com):

(Winning silverware) would give the players more confidence, of course. There is a change in players when you win a trophy. There is an aura around a team that is built through the history of a team.

Butland's upside would surely help the Gunnars reach that goal. And if nothing else, his presence will catalyze Szczesny into performing even better than he has. 

 

Fulham

Incumbent Keeper: Mark Schwarzer

Fulham's struggles this year have been well-documented and pronounced. Especially on defense.

The Whites have conceded 37 goals in 21 games, fourth most out of all presently un-relegated clubs. After a stretch where they were able to perform competitively, it looks like the time to rebuild might be now.

Incumbent keeper Mark Schwarzer has had a distinguished career, but now 40 years old, his time has to soon be coming.

In Butland, Fulham would be getting a monumental piece for the future and also an upgrade at second-team keeper right now.

 

Southampton

Incumbent Keeper: Paulo Gazzaniga, Kelvin Davis and Artur Boruc

Southampton is fighting off relegation by the hair on their necks, and defense has been the major reason why. They've conceded 38 goals in 20 games, including five on Saturday against Chelsea.

The keeper situation has been especially fluid. Paulo Gazzaniga, Kelvin Davis and Artur Boruc have all started games this season, and all have committed major errors.

Gazzaniga was supposed to be the future of the club, but his performance has done anything but inspire confidence.

Butland, if he played to his potential, could be a key to keeping this team in the Premiership next season.

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