Everton manager Ronald Koeman has established a reputation as a manager who likes the blend young talent with experience, But the Dutchman looks like he may have to choose between them when securing a new stopper over the summer transfer window.
Neither of Everton’s keepers established themselves as a clear first-choice last season, with Maarten Stekelenburg and Joel Robles sharing the role with 19 league starts each.
With Stekelenburg now 34 and the Liverpool Echo reporting that Robles’ future is in doubt, Koeman will have made finding a new stopper one of his top priorities as he looks to crack the top six.
So which goalkeeper should the Dutchman buy?
Despite being in a Sunderland side that suffered relegation and finished last with a whimper, Pickford drew plaudits with his performances and has established himself as one of the best young goalkeepers in the country.
The 23-year-old produced a number of fine performances behind a hapless Sunderland defence and managed an impressive 135 saves, second only to Tom Heaton’s 141 for Burnley. The youngster earned his first call-up to the England squad last October. His reputation has only increased since then although there is the caveat of Sunderland reportedly holding out for £30m.
Should Koeman not wish to part with that much cash, there may well be a fully-fledged international available for a cheaper price.
Joe Hart has been made surplus to requirements at Manchester City and would reportedly command a fee of £20m – as per the Daily Mail.
Pep Guardiola has made it clear he doesn’t rate Hart’s ball skills and shipped him out on loan to Torino last season. The 30-year-old hasn’t pulled up any trees in Italy and was named in Goal.com’s ‘Serie A Worst Team of the Season’ after an error-prone campaign.
On paper, Pickford seems the much more desirable option when you look at the statistics and the fact he is seven years younger than Hart.
It is worth considering, however, that the Sunderland man’s impressive save count may have been inflated slightly by playing for a side that was regularly dominated and faced a number of shots (46%) outside the box. Of the 104 saves Joe Hart made, that figure stands at just 33% – suggesting the majority of shots he faced were more difficult.
The former-Shrewsbury keeper also has experience of winning the Premier League, having been between the sticks in both of City’s successes in 2011/12 and 2013/14.
Despite that, there is no doubting that Hart’s reputation has been hurt more than hindered by being away, while Pickford has the form and potential to not only challenge for but steal Hart’s England jersey on a permanent basis.
If money is no object – and it really shouldn’t be for a side with billionaire owners – then there really is only one choice when you factor everything in.
Luckily for Koeman, it’s one that favours youth as well.