The goalkeeper situation at Goodison Park has been open to much debate in recent years. Tim Howard’s natural decline and subsequent departure to the MLS opened up a vacancy between the sticks that understudy Joel Robles failed to adequately fill when given the chance last season, whilst summer signing Maarten Stekelenburg is seen as a stop-gap solution at the age of 34 – despite his double-penalty-saving heroics against Manchester City on Saturday.
The Sun claim Ronald Koeman’s side are now eyeing Sunderland starlet Pickford, who has made the No.1 berth his own since stepping in for injured Vito Mannone, as their long-term first-choice. They also report on long-term interest from Manchester United, whilst Mirror Football moot Manchester City as potential suitors.
Signing talented shot-stoppers from relegation-fearing sides doesn’t always work, Simon Mignolet’s move from Sunderland to Liverpool being one of the more recent examples. But Pickford is just 22 years of age and certainly holding his own in the Premier League, evident enough through Gareth Southgate issuing the youngster his first England call-up earlier this month. Here’s a look at how he compares to Everton’s current and past goalkeeping options based on per-game metrics, courtesy of Squawka:
Clearly, some aspects of Pickford’s game still require improvement, particularly his distribution – although striker Jermain Defoe doesn’t offer much of a target compared to Lukaku. But the ease in which the 6 foot 1 shot-stopper has settled in the top flight certainly suggests we’re watching a huge talent at the start of a long and successful career.
Well, Football FanCast feel fairly confident in ruling out a January move. There’s rarely much action in the mid-season window nowadays, Stekelenburg will do the job until next summer and Sunderland would put up an incredible fight to hold onto Pickford during a relegation scrap, even if Mannone is back to full fitness. Likewise, Man City have just splashed out on Claudio Bravo, whilst United will keep their claws sunk into David De Gea as much as possible.
Furthermore, Mirror Football report that the Black Cats are preparing to offer the youngster a new contract, seemingly in a bid to fend off potential suitors.
But should Sunderland plummet out of the top flight this season, a plausible scenario with them laying rock bottom of the Premier League table after claiming jut two points from eight games, they’ll likely struggle to keep buyers at bay next summer. At that point, Stekelenburg will be close to his 35th birthday, City will likely have sold Joe Hart permanently and Real Madrid may have revived their long-term interest in De Gea.