Stoke to hold Begovic talks
Mark Hughes is planning to hold talks with Asmir Begovic to persuade him to stay at Stoke City - despite chairman Peter Coates indicating the club are prepared to sell the Bosnia international this summer.
New Stoke manager Hughes wants to speak with the 25-year-old goalkeeper, who is currently away on international duty, in the next few days.
He is determined to keep Begovic at the Britannia Stadium for next season, despite a list of top Premier League sides interested in signing the former Chelsea 'keeper and Coates' admission that Stoke would be prepared to sell if any club matches their £12 million valuation.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool have all made tentative enquiries over the past six months and Barcelona have also been linked with Begovic as a possible replacement for Victor Valdes.
Hughes has no intentions of allowing the squad he has inherited from Tony Pulis to be decimated this summer and has told Coates that one of the first priorities is to keep the goalkeeper rated as one of the best in the top flight.
His chances have been improved by the fact that two of Begovic's suitors, United and City, have both changed managers since the end of the season and Liverpool appear to be concentrating their efforts on signing Sunderland's Simon Mignolet.
Coates is looking to scale back his investment in the squad and Hughes knows he will have to work on a far tighter budget this summer than the one he was handed at Queens Park Rangers last summer.
Selling Begovic for an initial £12 million and add-ons that could take any total deal over £15 million and that would significantly increase Hughes' spending power in the summer as he looks to bring Junior Hoilett and PSV Eindhoven left-back Erik Pieters to the club and Coates claims the club will listen to offers.
Coates said: "We think we've got as good as any goalkeeper in the Premier League. He’s better than nearly everyone I can think of, so these guys will be in demand.
"He’s very ambitious and wants to do well. I don’t think a football club can stand in the way of Manchester United and that ilk. If they come in for him and the money is okay for us we would do it, but there is no pressure to sell.
"Asmir might get approached and we might feel he should be let go. We expect him to be here next year."
Begovic has already stated he wants to discuss his situation with Hughes and that the change of manager at Stoke will not affect his thinking.
His future will have a direct bearing on what Stoke do with £3.5 million signing Jack Butland. The England under-21 goalkeeper will be forced to step up to the Premier League if Begovic does leave, but is expected to be loaned out should the Stoke number one stay for another season.