Everton parted ways with Asmir Begovic after the Bosnian refused a contract extension with the Toffees, leaving Everton short of backup options in the goalkeeper area. However, they have an in house solution in Joao Virginia who has started pre-season training with the first team.
Last season, EFC’s goalkeeping department had Jordan Pickford, Begovic and Andy Lonergan. Begovic and Lonergan’s contracts were expiring at the end of the season and the Merseysiders offered deals to both the ageing keepers. Begovic refused and left as a free agent meanwhile Lonergan ended up signing a one year extension. Lonergan has been regarded as EFC’s third choice keeper and Pickford has been the undoubted and unchallenged No.1 at Goodison Park.
With Begovic gone, Everton do not have a backup to Pickford and although there are options available in the market, the Toffees could rely on one of their younger keepers to take up the backup role. Portuguese keeper Virginia poses a solid case for him to be considered as Pickford’s backup.
Everton could trust Joao Virginia as Jordan Pickford’s backup
Virginia has been with Everton since 2018, back then, he was part of the U23 side. He spent the second half of the 2019-20 season on loan at Reading. The Portuguese made his first team debut in 2020 under Carlo Ancelotti, playing against Salford City in the Carabao Cup. Injuries to Jordan Pickford and Robin Olsen saw Virginia made his Premier League debut against Burnley. He even started the FA Cup game against Manchester City and in total making three appearances for the first team that season.
Virginia was impressive but still raw and needed regular game time to polish himself and develop. The Portuguese wouldn’t even get a backup role at Everton so the Toffees sent him on loan to Sporting in the summer of 2021. Sporting were in talks to sign Virginia permanently but an agreement couldn’t be reached and the player returned after his loan spell ended.
Last summer, Virginia left on loan to join Dutch side SC Cambuur. Virginia made 17 Eredivisie appearances, conceding 28 goals and keeping four clean sheets throughout the season. Virginia signed a contract extension at Everton, keeping him at the club until 2025.
"I’m really happy to be at Everton and it’s a great moment for me and my family to sign this new contract. It’s nice to be back at Finch Farm and I’m looking forward to the season. A lot has changed since I’ve been away on loan last season. There’s new players and a new manager so it feels like a fresh start. (via Liverpool ECHO)"
He has gained experience through these loan assignments which should come handy for the 23 year old in the next phase of his career. Given Everton’s struggling finances and other priorities in the transfer market, EFC may not sign another keeper this summer. In that case, Virginia is a perfect candidate to act as a backup keeper to Pickford.
Will EFC trust Joao Virginia as Pickford’s backup?