There seems to be much discussion, and not much agreement, about who should be Everton’s number one come next season. It’s fair to say there are a few options that should be avoided. While some have sided with ‘football manger’ choices, like Bernd Leno and Timo Horn, others have sought to explore last season’s form book and famous names, see Fraser Forster and Joe Hart. The truth is that not one of these names has performed adequately this season to be considered a substantial upgrade on Joel Robles. Joe Hart has statistically been the second worst goalkeeper in Serie A, with Torino’s president claiming that he ‘didn’t expect so many mistakes from an England international.’ Bernd Leno is known throughout the Bundesliga for his continuous blunders, while Timo Horn has had an underwhelming season for Cologne. Lastly, Southampton must have commissioned a statue of Fraser Forster in memory of last season’s good form, this seems to be the only explanation for the lack of movement from the Forster-shaped figure at St Mary’s this season. Many of the players who seemed to be good options at this time last year, and Joe Hart, have performed so badly that the majority of them should now not even be considered as an upgrade on Joel Robles.
With the warnings out of the way, here are five goalkeepers who could make the number one spot at Everton their own:
1. Jordan Pickford
At the time of writing, the Mackem shot stopper has been linked to Everton, Tottenham, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool. So it’s fair to say that he is a goalkeeper in demand. At first glance the link may seem underwhelming, with Pickford being the first choice goalkeeper for the side that will finish 20th in the Premier League, this does not tell the whole story. A saves per goal average of 2.38 would suggest that the majority of the 51 goals that Pickford has conceded are due to the continuous pressure of having useless defenders in front of him, which is reminiscent of a player Everton signed last summer. Idrissa Gueye arrived at Everton with some brilliant personal stats, but was part of one of the poorest sides to ever grace the Premier League. As with Gana, there is obviously potential within Pickford, something which would be realised in a better quality team. Some areas evidently still need improvement if Pickford is to make it as a top Premier League goalkeeper, however looking at the improvements that Joel Robles has made to his game under the new coaching team, it would not be a surprise to see Pickford improve rapidly if he was to arrive at Goodison Park.
2. Wojciech Szczesny
So there is a goalkeeper on loan in Serie A from a Premier League club that Everton should be looking at after all. After a very successful season on loan at Roma, the Polish goalkeeper is keeping very quiet about his plans for next season. One thing that can be assumed is that Szczesny will not want to play second fiddle to Cech back at Arsenal. With Monchi’s arrival at Roma as the sporting director (yep, him again) and Luciano Spalletti’s rumoured departure, it is by no means clear cut that the Pole will return to the Italian capital next season. Szczesny is a much improved goalkeeper for his time in Rome, 14 clean sheets and over 2.5 saves per goal highlight that he and Buffon have been far and away the best two goalkeepers in the division this season. His stats are by far the best of any of the other options on this list, and he already has a significant amount of Premier League experience. Perhaps most significantly, Szczesny looks a much more confident goalkeeper than he did while in North London. Do not underestimate his fluency in the English language either, considering it is the first language of the majority of the defenders who are currently at Everton. If the Pole is looking to stay in the Premier League, as well as securing first team football before the World Cup, then maybe Everton would be well-placed to persuade him to move to Merseyside.
3. Oliver Baumann
With RB Leipzig stealing many of the headlines in the Bundesliga, the performances of Hoffenheim may have gone unnoticed. Players like Andrej Kramaric and Niklas Sule have, rightly, received praise for landing Hoffenheim in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League, but Baumann has also been a major part of their success. His saves-per-goal ratio of 2.23 and his 12 clean sheets were only bettered by Manuel Neuer. The 150 shots on goal that he saved, while 37 were conceded, was the highest total number of saves in the division. Baumann is not only a capable shot stopper. Playing under the Hoffenheim coach, Julian Nagelsmann, he has drastically improved his distribution, something which Everton have sorely lacked this season. Hoffenheim would be determined to hold on to their number one, especially seeing as Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Sule have already signed contracts with Bayern Munich. However, with the financial constraints that Hoffenheim find themselves under, perhaps perusing Baumann would be one of the lower hanging fruit for Everton, in terms of players who possess Champions League quality. Turning 27 on July 2nd, the ‘keeper fits the bill when it comes to Koeman’s desire to sign experienced players entering the prime of their career. If Everton could pull it off, the signing of Oliver Baumann could turn out to be an excellent piece of business.
4. Asmir Begovic
The recent league champion, okay he’s only played two games but that’s what an Oligarch’s request can get you, looks to be set for a move away from Stamford Bridge in the summer. While at Stoke, the Bosnian became one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League and was sought after by multiple Champions League clubs. Unfortunately the team that would eventually gain Begovic’s signature only ever had intentions of retaining him as their second choice. Since then his progression has stalled and his reputation has taken a knock with that. Although, during his time at Chelsea, Begovic has still performed at a competent level while Courtois has been either suspended or injured. A move to Bournemouth seemed on the cards in January, with Eddie Howe finally realising that Artur Boruc is a bit crap at football, so it seems that Begovic is now intent on kick-starting his career once more. While the Bosnian would not be the biggest name, he would be a definite improvement on the options that Everton currently have. After last summer, it’s fair to say that Everton should be targeting improvements rather than names.
5. Jack Butland
The gamble. Butland is by far the best goalkeeper outside of Lloris, De Gea & Courtois, when he’s fit. During the 2015/16 season, Butland was a sensation. Commanding, comfortable and yet he still had much more potential to realise. Unfortunately for the now 21 year old, 2016/17 has not been kind to him. With a year on the side-lines due to a serious ankle problem, the issue for the Everton board is not the single specific injury, more the repeated setbacks that have occurred since he sustained the injury during England’s 3-2 win over Germany. Botched operations and rushed returns have led to multiple complications during his rehabilitation from the original injury. Immediately such a statement evokes visions of the progression, or lack of it, of Jack Wilshere. For the price that Stoke would want for the England international, reportedly upwards of £30 million, would it be wise for the Everton board to sign off on such a deal, without evidence that Butland has categorically shaken off those injury problems? After all, it’s all well and good signing a talented goalkeeper, but that means nothing if said player is side-lined by persistent injury. As was intimated at the outset, a move for Butland would definitely be a gamble.