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Erik ten Hag finally completing Man Utd transfer Sir Alex Ferguson set in motion

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Manchester United are expected to confirm the loan transfer which will see Jack Butland move from Selhurst Park to Old Trafford for the remainder of the current campaign

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 20: Jack Butland of Crystal Palace during the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final match between Crystal Palace and Everton at Selhurst Park on March 20, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Jack Butland is set to sign for Manchester United

Manchester United are set to announce the arrival of Jack Butland on a loan for the remainder of the season.

Erik ten Hag has been forced into the transfer market after David de Gea’s understudy, Martin Dubravka, was recalled by Newcastle United. That left United with only Tom Heaton behind their first-choice and with the Dutchman looking to beef up his squad, rather than see it thin out, a replacement was needed.

And a move for Butland, who has yet to play for Crystal Palace this season, caps the end of a transfer fascination which began more than a decade ago. Back in 2012, Butland was touted as the next great English goalkeeper having come through the Birmingham City academy.

He announced himself in senior football with a loan spell at League Two Cheltenham in the 2011/12 season. Butland’s performances at Whaddon Road attracted scouts from up and down the country, with reports suggesting as many as 50 talent spotters went to check him out.

Within the clutch of observers was Sir Alex Ferguson’s trusted confidante and former United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele. The Red Devils coach got a first-hand glimpse of his talent in that season as well, when he was in attendance to see him save a penalty against Rotherham United.

Ben Foster was the Birmingham City starter back in those days and gave a hearty recommendation to his former employers. “Remember the name Jack Butland people,” he said. Never seen such a frighteningly good young talent in my career. He’s got everything, and he’s only 19.”

Sir Alex Ferguson sanctioned a scouting mission for Butland back in 2012

Butland was named as a replacement in England’s Euro 2012 squad that summer and did so having never played in a senior game above the fourth tier. Still a teenager, Butland opted to stay in the Midlands the following season, replacing Foster and making his Three Lions debut in August.

A move to Stoke City came next, but while he became a regular starter in the Premier League – and on the peripheries of the England squad – he has never quite lived up to his hype.

In fact, he moves to Old Trafford having failed to make a single Premier League appearance since the Potters were relegated in 2018. That was through no fault of his own however, with manager Paul Lambert declaring £35 million would only afford his right-hand glove.

Martin Dubravka was recalled by Newcastle at the start of the January window (


Getty Images)

Stoke eventually accepted a cut-price £500k-per-glove two seasons later, but he went to Selhurst Park very much as the understudy, rather than main man. And that will be his job at United, along with convincing bosses he deserves to stay beyond the end of this short-term arrangement.

It’s likely, should he get any chances, they will be restricted to the Carabao Cup, with De Gea starting most games in Europe. However, Butland may cast an eye at the role his former Stoke colleague Lee Grant had at the club, serving as an important member in the dressing room after his switch.

Sir Alex has little to do with transfer goings on at his old club nowadays – particularly after Cristiano Ronaldo ’s return backfired so spectacularly. But should Ten Hag want any advice, the old boss may still have a dossier on his first signing of the January window.

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