But now 36 years of age, the Team USA international isn’t the shot-stopping force he once was and appears set to trade Goodison Park for Major League Soccer at the end of the season – mostly likely with Colorado Rapids – now finding himself benched in favour of Joel Robles.
But described by manager Roberto Martinez as one of Everton’s greatest ever goalkeepers, Howard is likely to leave an enormous void in the Toffees’ starting XI in terms of both leadership and quality, even if his performances have caused major concern this season.
With that in mind and the summer transfer window by no means as far away as it may seem, we at FootballFanCast have been running the rule over five potential long-term successors to the veteran goalkeeper.
Who of these FIVE has what it takes to fill the sticks at Goodison Park?
Everton were linked with a £8million swoop for Chelsea’s Asmir Begovic last week and the Bosnian international would be an absolute steal for the Goodison Park outfit.
Indeed, Begovic more than established his Premier League credentials with Stoke City – claiming the Young Player of the Year, Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, Supporters’ Player of the Year and even Bosnian Footballer of the Year award during his five campaigns as the Potters’ No.1 – but has further impressed since moving to Stamford Bridge last summer.
The 28-year-old proved his capacity to handle the pressures of a major club whilst filling in for the injured Thibaut Courtois earlier this season, amassing 26 saves in twelve Premier League appearances, and I’m sure a number of top European clubs will resultantly be throwing him flirtatious glances during the summer.
So if the Toffees can snap up the 6 foot 6 understudy for a fee around the £8million mark, it will go down in my books as one of the biggest coups of the coming transfer window.
Antonio Adan has made the most saves of any goalkeeper in La Liga this season, notching up 73 in 24 appearances alongside eight clean sheets, and is resultantly in contention for the third ‘keeper slot in Vincente del Bosque’s EURO 2016 squad.
The Real Betis No.1 comes with strong pedigree too. He rose through the ranks at Real Madrid, representing Castilla on 84 occasions before making 18 senior outings, and boasts 40 caps for Spain across the youth levels.
The 28-year-old is attracting interest from abroad, most notably from Southampton, Sunderland and Liverpool, in no small part due to his £6.2million release clause.
That figure is well within Everton’s financial reach but they may struggle to fend off interest from their local rivals.
Let’s not rule out what Everton already have. Namely, a very handy young goalkeeper in Joel Robles.
The 6 foot 5 shot-stopper has always been highly-rated throughout his spells with Atletico Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, Wigan and the Toffees, starring for the Latics as they claimed a 1-0 win over Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup final.
The Spaniard really impressed against Bournemouth on Saturday with a phenomenal save from a Charlie Daniels penalty, marking his sixth clean sheet across all competitions this season, and now has the rest of the campaign to audition himself as Everton’s new No.1.
But for a 25-year-old, Robles’ first team exposure is somewhat limited. He’s made just 59 appearances at senior level throughout his career thus far, rendering him the least experienced goalkeeper on this list.
Another talented understudy at a top Premier League club. David Ospina was sensational for Arsenal during the second half of last season and indeed for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup, but now finds himself unfortunately stuck behind Petr Cech in the pecking order.
Indeed, he claimed 35 saves in just 18 Premier League appearances last term, stepping in for the hap-hazard Wojciech Sczcesny to help Arsenal play some phenomenal football during the second half of the season and eventually claim the FA Cup.
There are a few concerns regarding the 62-cap international, however, despite his vast experience at that level. He’s the shortest goalkeeper on this list at just 6 foot, which could cause real problems in the Premier League, and earlier in the season committed several costly individual errors during the Champions League’s group stages.
Nonetheless, Ospina is an incredible shot-stopper who would suit a club of Everton’s stature. Recent reports have suggested he will look to leave the Emirates this summer, potentially departing for as little as £5million.
Steve Mandanda is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1 – if not European football in general – but looks set to move on this summer with his Marseille contract winding down.
He’s claimed the league title once, a place in the Team of the Year twice and the Goalkeeper of the Year award thrice since his top flight debut in 2005, amassing a whopping 382 appearances.
The 6 foot 1 goalkeeper has been in consistently strong form yet again this season, recording 57 saves and six clean sheets in 26 outings, and boasts vast experience at top level, amassing 71 outings in European competitions and 21 caps for the French national team. Likewise, he currently serves as Marseille captain.
On a free transfer, the 30-year-old would be a sensational signing for the Toffees. But Mandanda will have plenty of suitors in the summer, so it could well come down to whether Everton can make the most lucrative contract offer.