- Premier League
Chelsea to open talks with Butland
Chelsea are the first club to make a firm bid for England Under-21 goalkeeper Jack Butland but it is far from certain he will head to Stamford Bridge.
Championship strugglers Birmingham City have put their entire squad up for sale as they battle financial problems, and Chelsea have stolen a march on their Premier League rivals.
Southampton had bids rejected for Butland in the summer and the player's agent, Gary Mellor told the Sun that Chelsea's offer is in the region of £3.5 million - almost half what Southampton had offered. He said: "Chelsea have been given permission to speak to Jack. 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 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 may consider a move to another top-flight club as a better career move with greater prospects for first-team football.