Stoke City F.C. manager Mark Hughes has rubbished reports linking highly-rated goalkeeper Asmir Begovic with a summer move away from the Britannia Stadium.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international, 27, continues to be linked with Spanish giants Real Madrid, but Hughes has insisted much speculation is well of the mark.
“There will be a lot of stories bandied about, but I would take that one [Begovic] with a pinch of salt to be perfectly honest,” Hughes said. “I don’t think that is true.
“We are scheduled to have talks with Asmir’s people in the next few weeks I think.
“I think both parties have stated that probably at the end of the season those talks will come to a conclusion, and we are very hopeful Asmir will stay here.
“There will be speculation around better players at football clubs, and we are no different. He has attracted attention because he is an outstanding goalkeeper.”
Begovic, who has kept seven clean-sheets in 33 English Premier League appearances for the Potters in 2014/15, is also said to be the subject of reported interest from Liverpool.
El Ouriachi closing on Stoke switch
FC Barcelona starlet Moha El Ouriachi is on the verge of completing a move to Stoke City, according to the player’s agent Raul Verdu.
Moha, 19, would be the third Barcelona youngster, following in the footsteps of Bojan Krkic and Marc Muniesa, to complete a move to Stoke in recent times.
“We thank Barca for the deal they offered the player and the efforts they have gone to try to renew his contract,” Verdu told Catalan newspaper Sport.
“But another proposal was really interesting on both a professional and economic level.
“Moha has the option of joining the first team squad at Stoke and that was irresistible.”
Regarding a potential move for Moha, Potters’ boss Mark Hughes added: “We are trying to improve the quality of the Under-21 group and he (El Ouriachi) is a good young player.
“He is one we think we can bring to [Moha] the club, so we will try to pursue that one and it looks very hopeful.
“He is predominantly left-footed, has good ability one on one and has good pace. He ticks a lot of the boxes in terms of what we are looking for in young players.
“If we can get it concluded, once he is here then we hope to develop him and push him towards the first team if we can.
“He is not one that is going to go straight into my team, but it is with a view that in the future it will happen.”
Moha, who scored a 98th-minute equaliser against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Youth League earlier this season, has predominantly featured for Barcelona’s Under-19 this side in 2014/15.