Despite conceding 50 goals in his only season in the Premier League, Jordan Pickford is to become the third most expensive goalkeeper in the world.
Amid Sunderland's disastrous season, the 23-year-old's impressive performances were the subject of constant praise and saw him attract interest from Arsenal and Manchester City. It is Everton who have snapped him up, though, on a five-year deal for an initial £25 million, rising to £30m.
It is a significant investment, but Ronald Koeman is sure it is a sound one.
"We've seen the quality he has through his performances in the Premier League last season and, given his young age, we're sure he will get even better," he said.
“Jordan is a very talented young professional who also has a real hunger for success, and that's important for us as we now look to make further progress in the seasons ahead.”
Pickford has been tipped for a great future since he emerged as a hero for Sunderland and showed he can develop into an all-round excellent keeper. Many see him as the future England No.1, and though Gareth Southgate overlooked him for the recent games against Scotland and France, he will line up for the U21s at the European Championship this month.
He is a fabulous shot-stopper with quick reactions who flings himself high and low to slap shots away. Only Tom Heaton (141) made more saves in 2016-17 than Pickford’s 135 in the Premier League, having played six more games.
His superb passing range sparked rumours about City's interest and saw him get an assist for England U21s.
Although he has been caught out on occasion, he looks sound in crosses amid a hectic and passive defence and he does not shy away from directing or, as is often necessary with Sunderland, remonstrating with team-mates.
Pickford may be useful off the field as well, as the 1.85m-tall player believes in his own authority: “I’m a winner and I’m like that in training too,” he said. “You have to be a leader as a goalkeeper, I feel like I am in the team even though I am only young.”
Arsenal were expected to make a move for Pickford as David Ospina and Wojciech Szczesny look set to move on, and they may regret not doing so as Petr Cech begins to show signs of inconsistency. The 35-year-old’s time is not up, but a long-term successor needs to be found and Pickford’s strong presence and distribution made him a good candidate. He proved as much against the Gunners, making 11 saves in a strong display, only to see Alexis Sanchez score twice from close range in the last 20 minutes.
David Moyes insisted he should stay at the Stadium of Light to develop physically and gain more experience, but he was clearly below his level there and has made the right move to an ambitious club and he will be guaranteed playing time.
It made sense for Sunderland to demand a large fee, initially rejecting a much smaller bid from Everton, for a player who had been at the club since the age of eight and had three years left on his contract.
He has just 31 Premier League appearances to his name, but gained valuable experience in his journey from the National League and up through each division across loan spells at Darlington, Alfreton Town, Burton Albion, Carlisle United, Bradford City and Preston North End.
The Tyne and Wear native felt his move to Preston at the start of 2015-16 was unnecessary, but he was tipped as a future England star by the time he returned in January and was given his Premier League debut shortly afterwards. Sam Allardyce then started him again in the campaign closer.
Pickford grabbed the chance to shine after Vito Mannone suffered an injury early in the campaign. Since the third week, he was first choice and was subsequently only kept out through injury. Although he had to wait until his 11th appearance to taste victory in the top flight as Sunderland constantly leaked goals, Allardyce’s successor Moyes heaped praise on him from the beginning and didn’t stop, even admitting he sounded like a “salesman” for him.
“He has everything to become a first-class keeper,” he said, and even went as far as to say: “He is one of the best goalkeepers in the country.”
The belief in Pickford is high across the country despite his side’s appalling season. With Everton looking to improve on their seventh-place finish in the league, they have signed a No.1 who will be key to their progress.