Arsenal have continued their goalkeeper clear-out by selling Joao Virginia to Everton for an undisclosed fee.

The 18-year-old, who signed for Arsenal from Benfica three years ago, told the official Everton site, “I am really happy to be at Everton.

“I hope to learn a lot from the goalkeepers here, Jordan Pickford, who had a great season and World Cup and Maarten Stekelenburg, who is very experienced, too. This is a great opportunity for me.”

The goalkeeping department has been a problem area for Arsenal for a number of years but with Gerry Peyton leaving the club the hopes are that this will improve.

To round up the movement in the transfer window so far, Arsenal first signed a 16-year-old goalkeeper by the name of Karl Jakob Hein. They followed that up with the signing of first-team goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

At the end of June, the club let Hugo Keto, Alex Crean and Ryan Huddart leave as the trio came to the end of their contracts with the club. Then Matt Macey moved to Plymouth Argyle on loan.

Let’s look at where that leaves the three Arsenal teams in 2018/19.


Arsenal's Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech gestures on the pitch after the UEFA Europa League first leg quarter-final football match between Arsenal and CSKA Moscow at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 5, 2018. Arsenal won the game 4-1. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL

Right now, it seems like Petr Čech is set to start the season as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper, just as he ended last season. He’s featured in many games during pre-season, and appears to have the edge over Bernd Leno, after some top performances.

However, Leno will be looking to respond with a similarly solid display if he starts at the weekend against Lazio. Emi Martinez looks like the third choice goalkeeper for the season, after returning from his loan to Getafe.

David Ospina is still technically at the club, but it appears inevitable he’ll leave in the coming week, so for now we’ll leave him out of our assessment.


Deyan Iliev

Based on pre-season so far, Deyan Iliev looks like the most likely first-choice for the u23s. The 23-year-old started Tuesday’s match against AFC Hornchurch, making a penalty save, and signed a new contract with the club last month.

Karl Jakob Hein looks to be in contention for a back-up spot, despite his age, after coming on at the end of Tuesday’s friendly.


Joao Virginia arsenal
Joao Virginia

Assuming Iliev has the u23 first-choice spot locked down, Virginia was the likely choice to start for the u18s, but Hein now looks like a strong possibility following Virginia’s sale

Behind him are Arthur Okonkwo and Daniel Barden. Okonkwo recently ended a contract stand-off to sign scholarship terms with Arsenal, and he’s highly rated at the club.

Fans got a glimpse of why during the goalkeeper’s spell in the u19 team for the Dallas Cup. Okonkwo particularly impressed during a penalty shoot-out against Manchester United during the tournament, sending Arsenal through to the final.

Barden made seven appearances for the u18s last campaign, and he’ll be looking to improve on that this year, but certainly faces a big challenge from Okonkwo.

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