After Stoke City’s crushing 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace sealed their relegation to the Championship on Saturday, focus quickly shifted to the future destinations of the Potters’ stars.
Among these possibly outgoing players is goalkeeper Jack Butland, a superb shot-stopper that West Ham must target this summer to solve their defensive issues.
The Hammers have struggled all season to find a reliable first-choice keeper, with both Adrián and Joe Hart unconvincingly vying for the starting role.
Inconsistency at the back has been the standout concern for West Ham this season, as the east London side have conceded a remarkable 67 goals to date – the most in the entire league.
Hart, the 31-year-old former England number one, has endured a particularly poor year at the London Stadium.
The Manchester City loanee has made a host of high-profile errors that have led to goals, most notably a terrible fumble that allowed Stoke’s Peter Crouch to score in late April.
The perfect solution for West Ham’s goalkeeping woes could come in the form of the 25-year-old keeper Jack Butland.
In an abject Stoke side, Butland has provided a lone bright spot, consistently contributing stunning stops and crucial blocks that have saved the Potters’ season from being even worse.
In addition, the Englishman holds the outstanding record of having made the most saves in the Premier League this season, with a remarkable 135 stops so far.
Butland ranks above Jordan Pickford, David de Gea, Thibaut Courtois, and more in the prestigious ranking.
A player of his quality between the sticks at West Ham would be a massive boost to the club’s long-term stability and defensive prowess.
Already an England international at the age of 25, Butland has the potential to be the Hammers’ first choice goalkeeper for the next decade.
Furthermore, Butland has refused to commit his future to the Bet365 Stadium, claiming in the aftermath of the Palace defeat that his sole focus is the World Cup and “beyond that we’ll have to wait and see.”
West Ham must make the transfer of the Stoke goalkeeper a top priority this summer to shore up their frustratingly leaky defence and secure a long-term rock at the back.