Connect in the back of the net

Everton has agreed a £30 million fee for Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford; whilst some will be alarmed that the price, this represents savvy business from Ronald Koeman.

 

Frustrating position

Everton are stuck in a frustrating position.

It is unlikely they will be able to compete for Champions League football in the foreseeable future, but it also equally unlikely that they will fall more than a place or two down the table.

It would be wrong to define it mediocrity, because they did secure Europa League football, but it would not be wrong to label it a ‘glass ceiling moment’ for the Blues. They simply do not have the budget to shatter that ceiling, just yet.

Thus, their pursuits must lie external to the league – their goal now must be to challenge in the domestic cups and compete in Europe. For this to happen, they need a reliable spine. The addition of Pickford is a start.

 

Young, but impressive

Pick is still relatively young – in goalkeeping years – at 23, but boasts impressive maturity. Surely, he will be Koeman’s number 1.

The Sunderland keeper’s stats outshine most in the league, let alone his closest competition at Everton.

Last season, he made 135 saves in 29 appearances, a feat only bettered by Burnley’s Tom Heaton. If it wasn’t for Pickford, Sunderland may well have been down before Christmas.

His distribution is also considerable, appearing to belong to the continental styles of mainland Europe rather than the aggressive and intense nature of the Premier League: playing out from the back, he made 32 passes per match last year, and for a team battling relegation this is indicative of the confidence that Pickford has.

Pickford has been described as a future England number 1 – with Everton perhaps paying a premium because of this English tie.

If he continues his development at the astonishing rate he showed at Sunderland, there is little reason why he won’t be.

 

Vulnerable area no longer

Koeman has identified a vulnerable area and fixed it.

With the consistency Pickford demonstrated at Sunderland, the Blues now have a stern defence: the foundation of any cup success is a disciplined and organised defence unit supported by a reliable keeper.

 

Win-win for both parties

A word too for Sunderland, who will also be happy with this deal.

David Moyes was given limited – in the most generous sense of the word – funds in his first year at the Black Cats. It appears as though Sunderland are in a spot of financial prudence, but hopefully this income will provide a much needed transfer kitty.

Sunderland will need it if they are to bounce straight back into the Premier League.

 

Written by Michael Jones

Follow Michael on Twitter @jonesmichael_97

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