Pickford: I'm better than De Gea was at this stage

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The England goalkeeper believes he is further along in his development than a man who has gone on to star for Manchester United was at the career mark

Everton and England star Jordan Pickford considers himself to be a better goalkeeper than David de Gea was at the same stage of his career.

Two men readying themselves for World Cup duty with their respective countries are now established members of the Premier League elite.

De Gea is a Golden Glove winner and a man considered to be one of the very best in the business, with his exploits for Manchester United having earned him a record-breaking four Player of the Year awards at Old Trafford.

The Spaniard did, however, take time to settle in the English top-flight and 24-year-old Pickford believes he has adjusted to those demands quicker than an illustrious rival.

The Everton custodian, who moved to Goodison Park for £25 million ($33m) in the summer of 2017, told reporters: “De Gea has been unbelievable for the last two or three seasons and is probably the best in the world at the minute.

“This is only my second season in the Premier League. It took De Gea a while and I don’t think it has taken me that long to get to this level.”

De Gea now sets the standard for those in English football, but Pickford admits to having taken inspiration from a World Cup-winning German and former Three Lions No. 1 in his own career.

He added: “[Manue] Neuer is one I really admire because he plays the role in his own way. You have got to play it your own way but he takes it to the next level the way he plays.

“But when I was younger, it was always [Joe] Hart I looked up to. They’re the ones who have got experience but I am always learning and always wanting to improve.”

Pickford’s rapid rise has taken him from a loan spell at League Two side Carlisle to the World Cup in the space of four years, with Gareth Southgate expected to give him the nod for an opening Group G clash with Tunisia on Monday.

“I have always been confident but never arrogant. Knowing I am capable of doing it, and it is what the manager wants, does not faze me,” added the Sunderland academy graduate.

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“It is all about game management as well and if you watch the games, I always play out at the right times. I would not take unnecessary risks and I would never try to overkill the players I am passing to.

“Against Nigeria, I played some balls out that were nice but then a couple of times I played a few longer ones which were better.

“That is the way we are going to play in the World Cup and I am very suited to that style, very capable of doing it, so I am going to do it. But it’s about when you do it.”

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