With Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford set to snub Arsenal and join Everton for £30m this summer, we ask: Who needed him more?
We might never know just how serious Arsenal’s interest in Jordan Pickford was, but the links have been there since January, and given the current situation with Arsenal’s goalkeepers, there was some merit to it.
The Gunners could be in a situation where two experienced goalkeepers in David Ospina and Wojciech Szczesny leave the club, leaving Petr Cech, who recently turned 35, as the undisputed first choice. While Emi Martinez might show promise, it’s unrealistic to think he could ever challenge Cech, nor is the best number two option.
In the short term, it doesn’t look too bad. Cech still has plenty of quality and hasn’t suffered from many injuries in his Arsenal career so far. Martinez would play in the cup games and possibly even in Europe, which would be a chance to prove his quality.
However, long-term it could present some issues. Given the longevity of a goalkeeper’s career, it’s hard to predict when Cech may retire, but it’s still a little concerning that Arsenal have no obvious successor. Equally, a sudden, drastic decline in Cech’s mid-season form would see Arsenal struggling to bring in an able replacement. There’d be no Ospina or Szczesny to step in and keep things steady.
Hence, in theory, Jordan Pickford could have been a necessary signing for Arsenal. He’s shown a lot of promise for Sunderland, and at 23 he has plenty of time to continue improving. He may have been a capable backup for us, while at the same time having enough potential to take over as the number one in the future.
But then we get to the transfer fee. £30m is a lot to fork out for a keeper who would only be a backup. The justifications that he could be a future England number one – hardly a ringing endorsement, let’s be honest – and that his nationality inflate the fee don’t quite cut it when there are cheaper shot-stoppers around. The fee would make Pickford the third-most expensive goalkeeper of all time.
To put it further into perspective, Barcelona’s Marc Andre ter-Stegen, Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas and Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak all cost less than Pickford. Even if you combined their fees, they’d still fall short of the Sunderland man.
That Everton are apparently willing to spend that much is evidence of their desperation for a good goalkeeper. It’s been a problem position for the Toffees since the decline and eventual departure of long-time number one Tim Howard. The likes Joel Robles and Maarten Stekelenburg haven’t been able to fill the void. For them, Pickford would be an upgrade and first choice for several years – two things he wouldn’t have been at Arsenal.
There’s little doubt that the signing would be framed as Arsenal missing out on a talented young keeper, but the Gunners have a far easier and far cheaper solution available to them: convincing Wojciech Szczesny to stay. Szczesny may be older, but he is vastly more experienced, playing in the Champions League and at international level, and has a club as big as Juventus chasing him this summer. The potential Cech replacement is already owned by the club.