Chelsea lining up £8m swoop for Begovic as race for Cech hots up
Chelsea have been alerted to the fact Asmir Begovic is ready to leave Stoke City at the end of the season as the Blues continue to weigh up their options over a replacement for goalkeeper Petr Cech.
However, Chelsea face a battle to convince Begovic to agree to be understudy to Thibaut Courtois, with Roma also interested and prepared to offer a guaranteed first-team place.
Begovic (27) was left out of the Stoke squad for the game against Swansea City last weekend, with Jack Butland taking his place and poised to keep the gloves until the end of the season.
That has left a big question-mark over the future of Begovic, who will have one year remaining on his contract at the end of the season and could be available for around £8m.
Chelsea are trying to ascertain whether there would be any chance of convincing Begovic to move to Stamford Bridge as a deputy to Courtois.
Begovic will be reluctant to move to a club where he is unlikely to play at this stage of his career, but Chelsea will try to tempt him with a big pay rise and a promise that he will play in the cup competitions and in the early rounds of the Champions League.
Cech has made 15 appearances as understudy to Courtois this season, but is expected to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer, with Arsenal favourites to sign him.
Inter Milan have also declared an interest and want to open talks. Chelsea started drawing up a list of possible replacements for Cech a couple of months ago, which features Queens Park Rangers' Robert Green, Fulham's Marcus Bettinelli and Getafe's Vicente Guaita.
Chelsea attempted to sign Begovic as an understudy to Cech five years ago and he was so upset that Stoke turned down the bid that he pulled out of a League Cup tie against Shrewsbury Town.
Having established himself as one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League, however, Begovic may not be quite so desperate to move to Chelsea as second-choice this time.
Along with Arsenal and Inter, Roma are searching for a goalkeeper and are interested in Cech. But should the 32-year-old move to the Emirates Stadium or the San Siro, then Roma will move for Begovic.
Begovic would almost certainly fulfil his dream of playing in the Champions League - Roma are second in the Serie A table behind Juventus.
Begovic's team-mate Charlie Adam does not believe the goalkeeper will want to sit on the bench at Chelsea.
Asked if Begovic was good enough to play for a top-four club in the Premier League, Adam said: "Yeah. He's a top goalkeeper. All of those clubs have goalkeepers, though.
"He has to make the right decision. He had the opportunity to go to Chelsea as No 2 a couple of years ago and he refused that because he wants to play." (© Daily Telegraph, London)