By Pete O’Rourke
Aston Villa have leapfrogged Bournemouth to climb into pole position to sign Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland this summer, Football Insider understands.
The two Premier League clubs are both in pursuit of the England international, 26, as they look to recruit a proven number one in the current window.
Football Insider revealed in April that Cherries boss Eddie Howe has made Butland his prime target, and Villa boss Dean Smith joined the race earlier this month following his side’s promotion back to the top flight.
Butland is eager to return to the Premier League after remaining with Stoke for a season following their relegation to the Championship.
The Potters were a long way from the promotion tussle last campaign and the keeper has made it clear behind the scenes he wants a summer transfer.
A source close to the situation has told Football Insider that Stoke want a £20million-plus fee for their prize asset and that Villa are currently ahead of Bournemouth to get him.
Smith’s side secured Jed Steer to a new contract this week but they do not believe he is ready to be number one, while Norway international Orjan Nyland is recovering from a ruptured Achilles.
Butland, who stands at 6ft 4in, has nine England caps and is proven in the Premier League.
He stayed on with the Potters following their relegation and ha started 45 of their 46 Championship matches last season, missing only one game following the birth of his child.
In other Aston Villa news, it can be REVEALED that the club have opened preliminary talks to sign a £17.5million player.