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​Hughes wants Begovic on board for Europa League push

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is confident of keeping in-demand goalkeeper Asmir Begovic at the Britannia Stadium as he looks to build a team capable of European qualification.

Ahead of his side’s trip to face already-relegated Burnley at Turf Moor, Hughes said UEFA Europa League qualification is the aim for his side next season.

Bosnia-Herzegovina international Begovic has attracted interest from Liverpool and Real Madrid this season but Hughes is keen to open contract talks, with just over 12 months remaining on his current deal.

Hughes said: “We can offer him a good option.

“We feel we are progressing and we want him to be part of that.

“We are conscious that he is in the last year of his contract. Financial demands will always be part of the discussion, but I don’t think that would be something that would affect anything we would be looking to do with him.

“We haven’t had those talks yet, but once we do at the end of the season then hopefully we can get a quick and happy resolution. We want Asmir to keep progressing as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League here. I am very hopeful of being able to agree something with him and his representatives.”

Hughes is confident of attracting new talent to Stoke over the summer, saying his side’s performance in the Premier League this season has made them “a viable option” for players seeking a new challenge.

On his ambitions for next season, he said: “I have a real good feeling about this place and feel there is even more room to progress for us. I would love to take the club into Europe if possible; that is an obvious target for us.

“People suggest that being in the Europa League is a burden, but for ourselves it is a burden we would be more than happy to take on. We won’t shy away from that. We know there would be demands on the group and on the club itself, but it is something we are striving to achieve. Once you are in it, you are in there to try and win it.”

Fri 15 May, 2015
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