The Top 5 Keepers Everton Should Sign to Compete with Pickford

There has been no doubt this season that Everton have needed a strong back-up goalkeeper. With notably poor performances from our first-choice keeper in key games against Liverpool and Newcastle it has become apparent that this is possibly the second biggest gap in our squad behind an out-and-out striker. Yet it is a tough one to get right because you would be expecting your first-choice keeper to be starting every game. There is the added element of “entitlement”, with Jordan Pickford being England’s current number 1. It therefore becomes crucial that whoever Everton look to bring in would be happy to sit and wait their turn. Having said that, with Jordan’s form being sporadic at times this season, Everton’s number 2 would need to provide real competition for a place in the starting XI, something that Pickford has not had this season. With Marten Stekelenburg not proving to be a trustworthy back-up and with Joao Virgina still developing where do Everton turn to in the summer in terms of goalkeeping recruitment? And does the club look beyond their proposed remit of recruiting youth, in order to give the goalkeepers at Everton an injection of experience and reliability? This article takes a look at 5 goalkeepers that Everton should consider signing in the summer. It is worth noting that none of these keepers have had any recent links with the club and that the majority currently play their football in the Premier League. The reason that they are considered and included is because it would be important for whoever Everton buy in, to know the league well…

THE CONTENDERS:

Willy Caballero

This for me is the guy Everton should sign. He has been a proven and reliable back-up goalkeeper for Manchester City and now Chelsea. He is an Argentinian International, at a prime age for a goalkeeper, 37. He has only made 27 domestic appearances in England since arriving in Manchester back in 2014. Yet has won a League Cup with Manchester City and an FA Cup with Chelsea. It is no secret that a back-up goalkeeper will get the majority of their game time in the cup competitions and with Everton seriously lacking in competition for Jordan Pickford, Caballero’s experience could prove invaluable to the Toffees, who have to be looking at adding silverware in the not to distant future. His price tag would be affordable, his CV speaks for itself, the only stumbling block might be the transfer embargo at Chelsea and due to their inability to register new players it would remain to be seen if Chelsea would put their trust in Kepa and youth moving forward. Many fans might not see the value in this particular option, I think that it would be easy to dismiss him as a candidate due to age and his current-clubs position. However, if you take the transfer embargo of Chelsea out of the equation it is clear to see that he is a viable option that could be called upon in cup competitions as well as games where Pickford could afford to be rested. Trust is key with goalkeepers and Caballero has been trusted at two of the biggest and most successful clubs of the Premier League era. It, for me, makes complete sense to see a goalkeeper, comfortable as a number 2, to fill that specific void at Goodison Park.

Neil Etheridge

The young Filipino international has gone under the radar during a disappointing season for Cardiff City. Often when a team is on the brink of relegation, the goalkeeper comes under much scrutiny. However, this is not the case for Etheridge, who has the record of the 2nd highest number of saves in the Premier League this season. Current first choice at Cardiff, he is probably one of the few desirable players that could be prised away from Wales should the club find themselves in the Championship next season. A graduate of the Chelsea Academy and having already accrued over 60 international capps, Etheridge is accustomed to life in England. Having played for Fulham, Oldham, Charlton and Walsall before making the move to Cardiff back in 2017. He has played every minute of Premier League action for the bluebirds this season, so a question could be asked on if he would be comfortable spending the majority of next season on the bench at Everton. At 29 years of age, he is entering what should be the peak years of his career and after some displays this season, he would not be short of options. If strong competition is what Everton need for their current number 1, then I believe this could be the man to give it to them. At the time of writing Etheridge has 8 Premier League clean sheets, only 2 behind current Everton keeper Pickford (10). Whilst I think this deal would be unlikely, it has to be said that if Etheridge were to become available at the right price, he would be a more than worthy challenger for the place between the posts at Goodison.

Nick Pope

An England International, a crucial part of Burnley’s most successful season in the Premier League, now he finds himself amongst 4 goalkeepers and short on first-team football. Alongside Tom Heaton, Joe Hart and Anders Lindegaard a series of injuries over the summer lead to Burnley having one of the bulkiest goalkeeping rosters in European football. With Tom Heaton appearing to have reclaimed the number 1 position at Turf Moor, it would appear that Nick Pope may be on the look for another club as he looks to challenge both Heaton and Pickford for a place in the England set-up. Again, I fear that as with Etheridge there might be an issue concerning a lack of minutes. He will also probably come with a hefty price-tag given his age. It could end up that Pope is the one for the future that Burnley do all they can to hold on to. Alternatively, a bigger club that could offer Pope regular first team football may lure him away from Lancashire. It does have to be said that Pope is far from being a finished article, he does need to move away from Burnley if he is to develop as a top-goalkeeper and the competition he and Pickford could give one another on the pitch and in training could help both of them to develop. At 26 years of age, he has the potential to play another decade at the top of his game. He will have questions to answer, over loyalty to Burnley, competition for place and how far he can go in European football and in many ways due to congestion at Burnley, Everton might be a more suitable fit for him. The likelihood of this deal going through is slim, however, Everton should do all the can to get a keeper like Pope who is young yet experienced within the Premier League.

John Ruddy

There is something of a nostalgia trip about this one. It will divide opinion, it will be controversial and not many will see the point in it. It does have a touch of football romance about it. A lad who joined Everton in 2005 and only made 1 appearance before loan spells at Walsall, Rushden & Diamonds, Chester City, Stockport, Wrexham, Bristol City, Crewe Alexandra and Motherwell before completing a permanent move to Norwich City in 2010. His first game for the Canaries was a pre-season friendly, a 4-2 defeat against Everton. Since then he has gone on to play competitively for the East-Anglian side over 200 times before winning promotion to the Premier League with Wolves in 2017. An integral part to the Black Country side’s successful promotion push, Ruddy has found himself limited to cup competitions this season after the arrival of Rui Patricio. Ruddy is now in his early-thirties and seems to have adapted well to being call upon on a rotational basis. It is safe to say his career has peaked. He won’t be pushing for a move to a bigger club and with the Wolves side having a certain Portuguese flavour, it would be no surprise to see Ruddy become available at a reasonable price. Certainly, the most likely of the candidates reviewed so far and one that has a story behind it. A journey man who returns to a club who he was registered with for 5 years, returns having learnt his trade and looks to stake his claim for a place in the starting XI. He could give competition to Pickford and already understands the club. He is also a name that fans wouldn’t fear seeing on a team sheet for the occasional cup game.

Kevin Trapp

The unknown entity of the article. The only candidate to currently be playing football outside of the Premier League and by no means a cheap option. Currently on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt, Trapp joined PSG for around £9million back in 2015. Going on to win several domestic honours with the club Trapp has even managed to accrue 3 international capps for a very talented and competitive German side. At the age of 28 and presumably surplus to requirements at the French giants, Trapp could fancy a taste of the top-flight in England. Whilst Everton might not be his preferred destination an offer, similar to what PSG paid for him 4-years-ago might be enough to tempt him along to Goodison Park. We have seen with Leno at Arsenal that the slow integration process works for keepers learning the demands of the league. We could see Trapp become competition and even overthrow Pickford to become Everton’s number 1. With the new stadium on the horizon and European football/silverware the biggest targets for the club there is an excitement as well as an expectation around Goodison. One that would be able to turn the heads of many talented individuals. A man who has played over 200 top-flight games in France and Germany he is a well-rounded professional who could prove to be just what Everton need to see more clean-sheets and stability between the sticks.

There is no doubt with the money spent on him and the reviewed remit of the club that Jordan Pickford is and will be Everton’s number 1 for a long time to come. However, it is apparent that the right blend of his youth and a backup with experience could prove to be a powerful antidote to some glaring goalkeeping errors this season. Pickford has been unchallenged, Stekelenburg is by far one of the poorest back up keepers in the Premier League and ultimately the role of a second-string keeper should be that of someone who can look to challenge every week in training and perform when called upon. Who that is, will be revealed in the Summer but for now there is some food for thought on who could contend with England’s Number 1.

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