Sky Sports have today reported that Jordan Pickford is top of Chelsea’s shopping list if their current starting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois leaves for Real Madrid.
The move is an interesting one because Everton will command a huge fee for Pickford as they only signed him last season from Sunderland for £30 million. In truth, the Englishman could well cost more than what the Blues receive for Courtois.
Given his eye-catching performances at the World Cup and penalty shootout heroics, it's no real surprise to see Pickford linked to a club the size of Chelsea, but would the move make sense?
Pickford is a top level goalkeeper
Yes. This is a player who excels at everything you could ever want from a 'keeper. Pickford literally ticks every box:
Athleticism - check
Football intelligence - check
Big-game experience - check
Kicking ability - check
Reflex saves - check
Fundamentally, he puts a mark in every box to say he can do what you expect from a 'keeper. He may have had an inconsistent season at Everton, but his World Cup performances demonstrated just how good he can be.
For instance, he made a stunning save in the penalty shootout win against Colombia, as well as three one-handed reflex stops to deny Sweden and keep a clean sheet in the quarter-final.
The few knocks on him? Well, some say he is too short, but he has proved that he can save even the most impossible efforts so that seems a harsh criticism.
Some sections of the media criticised him after England’s defeat to Belgium in the World Cup for not saving Adnan Januzaj’s stunning strike, though they were unfounded and quietened down after the Sweden game.
Is he better than Courtois?
At this moment in time, you will be hard pressed to find a 'keeper better than Courtois. He had a stunning World Cup and has been a rock for Chelsea over the last few years.
Pickford does not yet boast his pedigree, and it is arguable that not many 'keepers in world football do. However, Pickford is younger than him and has the potential to reach that level in the future.
Reuters/DYLAN MARTINEZA good measure of a 'keeper's ability, moreover, is their saves per goal - how many saves they make per goal conceded. After 35 games, Courtois finished with a 2.1 saves per goal ratio, with Pickford slightly behind on 1.87. Despite his height, Pickford also made a massive 105 catches, 40 more than Courtois, perhaps demonstrating a greater reliability from crossing and set piece situations.
So yes, Courtois to Pickford would be a downgrade in some sense, but losing Courtois now and replacing him with Pickford could have its benefits, especially because the Belgian 'keeper is out of contract next summer.
How much is he worth?
The fact that Everton parted with £30 million just 12 months ago to sign Pickford would suggest that he is worth far more than that now, especially after his World Cup displays. But does that mean he's now doubled in value?
If Liverpool shelled out around £67 million for Roma 'keeper Alisson, then Everton would feel they're in a position to demand a similar fee. Both are of a similar age, though Alisson is arguably more experienced and establishing having played Champions League football.
Whilst a fee in the region of Alisson's is perhaps unrealistic to expect, the Toffees will certainly hope for a profit on the £30 million they paid Sunderland last summer. It would, however, be money well spent for Chelsea.