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Begovic departure 'a matter of time'

Stoke City chairman Peter Coates has said he believes it is only a matter of time until goalkeeper Asmir Begovic moves on from the Britannia Stadium.

Asmir Begovic joined Stoke from Portsmouth in 2010
Begovic was strongly linked with a summer move from Stoke.

Whittaker: Stoke let down

Coates thinks it is inevitable that a top club will find the 15 million pounds required to sign the highly-rated Bosnia international.

Begovic was linked with a summer move to Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal or Chelsea, with Napoli and Barcelona also reportedly in the frame, and the signing of Jack Butland was prompted by the possibility of his sale.

Coates told The Sentinel: "You always have to be realistic about these things. If a call came from a top European club and was attractive to him, then you have to look at it.

"I feel he's as good as anybody in the Premier League. I don't know anyone who is better. It wouldn't be much of a surprise to me, and that's why we have contingency plans in place with other goalkeepers at the club.

"We would be reluctant to sell him because you want to keep your best players, but equally you are realistic about things. You also have to consider the player's view."

Begovic's stock will rise higher on Tuesday night if Bosnia defeat Lithuania to earn a place in the World Cup finals in Brazil next summer.

Both Peter Shilton and Gordon Banks played at Stoke and in World Cup finals, and Coates feels Begovic is good enough to be ranked alongside the England pair.

"In my opinion the two outstanding goalkeepers have clearly been Peter Shilton and Gordon Banks," he said. "One has the most caps for England and the other won the World Cup, so to be mentioned alongside those two would be some achievement.

"We would all be delighted to see him get to Brazil because he's such a good guy."

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