Marcel Brands can look to save Everton millions of pounds in the summer transfer market by urging Carlo Ancelotti to use Joao Virginia over signing SSC Napoli’s Alex Meret.
The Toffees have been linked with a potential move to sign Meret at the end of the season amid doubt in his future at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Meret is thought to have grown somewhat unsettled in southern Italy as Gennaro Gattuso has shown a preference in ex-Arsenal shot-stopper David Ospina.
Ancelotti was claimed to be showing a strong interest in being reunited with Meret following his time in Naples as Everton are likely to be in the market for a new goalkeeper this summer, with doubt in AS Roma loanee Robin Olsen sealing a permanent move from the Serie A side after his home was recently broken into by machete-wielding burglars.
Ancelotti had been keen to agree on a deal with Roma to sign Olsen permanently, as the Sweden international has kept Jordan Pickford on his toes by offering the Italian an option to rotate his choice between the sticks.
That choice may soon be unavailable and in his place could sit Meret, with Il Romanista claiming that the Italian wants out but that a move to Roma – where he sits atop of Paulo Fonseca’s shopping list – is challenging as Napoli would demand no less than €20m (£17m).
Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis had been behind Meret’s move to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in 2018 when he paid SPAL €22m (£19m) and in doing so, went against Ancelotti’s wishes as he wanted the signing of Alphonse Areola instead.
Everton’s Director of Football, Brands, should now do the opposite of De Laurentiis and overlook a deal for Meret, and urge Ancelotti to use Virginia as Pickford’s understudy if a deal for Olsen cannot be agreed.
Virginia delivered an impressive performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-final last weekend, with the Portugal U21 international producing a number of pivotal saves to keep Everton in the tie until the closing stages.
It was a remarkable showing from the 21-year-old who had only played 137 minutes of first-team football for Everton previously, having been given an unscheduled Premier League debut against Burnley a week prior following an abdominal injury for Pickford.
Virginia was undoubtedly one of Everton’s stars of the day, having pulled off a fantastic fingertip save to push Raheem Sterling’s effort around the post. He smothered most of what the Citizens threw at him, in fact, until Ilkay Gundogan headed home in the 84th minute.
Ancelotti was pleased with Virginia’s efforts, telling BT Sport via quotes by The Guardian after the game: “Virginia did really well. He has no experience, but he is quality. I think he deserves the compliments.”
And the compliments kept coming, with Ben Godfrey telling EvertonTV: “I was massively impressed by his performance. He works hard every day in training.
“Some of the saves he made to keep us in the game were outstanding. I’m over the moon for him and, as long as he keeps working hard and trying to improve, then there will be plenty more appearances to come.”
Brands should urge Ancelotti to ensure Godfrey’s prophesy comes true, as Virginia is surely now a no-brainer that could emerge as the Italian’s Olsen replacement and save Everton millions of pounds.
AND in other news, an “exceptional” Everton figure is being eyed by a Premier League rival…