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Jan 30, 2013

Butland rejects Chelsea switch

Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland has rejected the opportunity to move to Chelsea, citing a desire to play first-team football.

Jack Butland makes his England debut against Italy
Jack Butland on his debut for the senior England team against Italy last summer

Chelsea were the first club to make a firm bid for England Under-21 player but his agent told BBC Sport that a move wasn’t likely to happen.

He said: "Jack's enjoying playing for Birmingham and he is gaining valuable experience. He will listen to what any club that meets Birmingham's asking price has to say, but playing is of paramount importance for Jack."

Championship strugglers Birmingham City have put their entire squad up for sale as they battle financial problems, and Chelsea looked to have stolen a march on their Premier League rivals with their offer.

Southampton had bids rejected for Butland in the summer and Mellor told the Sun that Chelsea's offer was in the region of £3.5 million - almost half what Southampton had offered He said: "At this moment they are the only club who have registered a bid.”

Butland, 19, is one of England's most highly rated goalkeepers. He was a late call-up in place of the injured John Ruddy to be third choice at Euro 2012, and after being Great Britain's No. 1 at the London Olympics he was handed a full England cap against Italy in August 2012, becoming the youngest ever England international goalkeeper at 19 years and 158 days.

Everton, Fulham and Liverpool are all known admirers of Butland and Birmingham will hope Chelsea's firm interest will lead to increased offers from other Premier League clubs.

With Chelsea owning 20-year-old Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, on loan at Atletico Madrid, Butland himself may consider a move to another top-flight club as a better career move with greater prospects for first-team football.

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