Everton offering extension to fringe player indicates future plans for €5 million man

Everton (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Everton (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Last summer, Everton brought in Asmir Begovic as a backup keeper on a free transfer after Robin Olsen’s loan deal expired. Then manager Rafa Benitez also signed former Liverpool goalkeeper Andy Lonergan as third choice keeper and sent Joao Virginia out on loan.

The arrival of Begovic meant that Virginia would struggle to even play backup to Jordan Pickford and at 21, he wanted to play and develop. The third choice keeper role didn’t look alluring to the Portuguese and he was sent on loan to Sporting.

The injury to Harry Tyrer forced Everton to go out and sign Lonergan to fill the third spot of a keeper in the senior squad. Unsurprisingly, Lonergan was just a squad filler. The 38 year old did not make a single appearance and made a total of 15 appearances on the bench.

Earlier, Everton activated the one year extension in Begovic’s contract keeping him at the club until 2023. Lonergan, whose deal was set to expire this summer too, was expected to leave the club as Virginia was on course to return to the club and emerging keepers from the U-23 team, Billy Crellin and Tyrer were showing a glimpse of their talent.

Everton offering a new deal to Andy Lonergan indicates their plan for Joao Virginia

However, according to an official statement by the club, Lonergan has been offered a new deal by the club. Meanwhile, Jonjoe Kenny will leave the club after rejecting a new deal offered by the Merseysiders. Fabian Delph, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Cenk Tosun will leave as free agents.

If Lonergan accepts the new offer, plans for the young trio of Virginia, Tyrer and Crellin could certainly change. Even though Virginia did not get regular playing time at Sporting, he was content and the Portuguese side wanted to sign him permanently as they plan for life after Antonio Adan. However, the buy clause of €5 million was off-putting and Sporting ultimately walked out of the negotiations.

So, Virginia will return to Goodison and given that Lonergan has been offered another deal, this could indicate that either Everton are happy to sell the 22 year old or send him out on another loan. Crellin was signed in January and has remained with the U-23 side. The 21 year old could continue his development with the U-23 side for next season instead of being sent out on loan or training with the first team as a third choice keeper.

As for Tyrer, a loan move to a Championship club seems highly likely. The player had suffered a nasty ankle injury in the early 2021-22 season but upon return has been solid, playing 18 Premier League 2 games. To continue his onward development, the Toffees wouldn’t hesitate to send him out on a loan.

Virginia’s future remains uncertain. Through Lonergan’s extension, it seems clear that either Everton will cash in on him or they think that he still needs to get the required experience and send him on a loan assignment. With the transfer window now open, plots can develop quickly.

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Will Joao Virginia stay at Goodison Park next season?