The Sun report that Newcastle United and Crystal Palace are set to go head-to-head in a battle to sign Tom Heaton this summer.
The 31-year-old has been excellent this season and has emerged as one of the most consistent Premier League goalkeepers.
He has established himself in the England squad and could be open to a transfer away from Burnley this summer, as he enters the peak years of his career.
Sam Allardyce and Rafa Benitez have a poor relationship, which adds an extra dimension to this story, as both managers will be keen to beat the other to the goalkeeper’s signature.
Why are clubs targeting Heaton?
It has been a superb season back in the top-flight for the Burnley goalkeeper as he has played a huge role in Burnley surviving in the Premier League for the first time in their history. His best performance came against Manchester United at Old Trafford as he made 11 saves to keep a clean sheet, including a world class stop to prevent Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Premier League has witnessed some excellent goalkeeping performances and this was up there as one of the most impressive. The Clarets had no right to take a point from the match, but they managed to do so thanks to their keeper. This underlined how good Heaton is and his standing in the game increased as a result.
To put his season into context, he has kept the fifth highest amount of clean sheets in the Premier League. This is made more impressive as he plays for Burnley, a side in the bottom half in the league. He has made 2.2 saves per goal, which is only fractionally less than David de Gea (2.21), the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.
His character is another asset as he is a leader on the pitch and a person who is well respected off it. After playing the majority of his career in the Football League, he has now established himself at the highest level and it will be difficult for Burnley to keep hold of him this summer.
How likely is a move this summer?
It all depends on the player and whether he wants to leave Burnley this summer.
He has been at the club since 2013 and has been captain for two of those years. The goalkeeper has made a name for himself at Burnley and it will be difficult to leave, but it could be the right thing for his international career.
Joe Hart is far from secure as England’s number one and Heaton has the ability to take the shirt off him over the next 12 months before the World Cup. It could be beneficial to leave Turf Moor and join a club that will earn him more exposure.
Newcastle United and Crystal Palace are the two teams linked in the report, with both offering exciting projects. The former have just returned to the Premier League and have ambitions to return to European football over the coming seasons under the tutelage of Rafa Benitez.
It is early days in the project, but if things go smoothly, they could be challenging in the top eight within a couple of years. They need a number one goalkeeper, as none of the current squad have done enough to convince Benitez that they are good enough. Meanwhile, Palace are located in London and look to be a team on the up under Allardyce.
Both teams would earn Heaton more exposure and for a fee of £15 million, this is a deal that makes sense for the buying clubs too. It’s too early to believe this will happen, but it is certainly worth keeping an eye on.