Jack Butland’s career appeared to be going places when he was included in England’s Euro 2012 squad after replacing John Ruddy, who was injured just before the start of the tournament.
After signing for then-Premier League side Stoke City in January 2013 for just £3.4m, the goalkeeper then spent the next 18 months on loan at four different Championship teams, including Birmingham City, where he began his career.
After a number of injury-ridden campaigns with the Potters, Butland particularly impressed during the 2015/16 and 2017/18 seasons, making 31 and 35 appearances respectively.
This led to Wolves being linked with a £35m move for the shot-stopper – who was once branded “excellent” by Steve McClaren – in 2018 after they won promotion to the top flight, at the same time that Stoke had been relegated to the Championship.
However, Wolves instead opted for Rui Patricio, who proved to be a much better investment after playing 127 games for the West Midlands club, only conceding 151 goals before moving to Roma last summer for a reported £10.6m.
Bruno Lage replaced him with £7.2m signing Jose Sa, who this season has averaged a 7.24 match rating (the highest out of any Premier League goalkeeper) – and kept an impressive ten clean sheets so far.
Meanwhile, Butland has since become a backup player at Crystal Palace, having joined two years ago from Stoke for just under £1m – a 95% decrease in value from the £35m that Wolves almost paid for him.
If any Wolves fans doubted whether Patricio would be a better signing for the club than the Englishman, their fears were quickly allayed, and it’s hard to see the 29-year-old playing much in the Premier League from hereon.
This season, he has averaged a 6.58 match rating in his six top-flight appearances, only once earning a rating above seven (against Brighton in January).
It’s safe to say that nobody at Molineux will have any regrets about not lashing out £35m on Butland, whose career has dwindled since that Euro 2012 call-up nearly a decade ago.