Premier League • England

Tottenham given hope as Rafa Benitez ready to sacrifice key Everton man

Jordan Pickford Ben Mee Everton Burnley 2021 TEAMtalk1

Everton are reportedly open to the idea of selling goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to raise funds for Rafa Benitez to strengthen his side.

Pickford, 27, has been with the Toffees since June 2017 when the Merseysiders paid Sunderland £25m for his signature. The north-east native has made 158 Premier League appearances for the Blues and 175 in all competitions. England came calling in 2016, with the former Bradford City loan star now firmly established as the nation’s number one.

He has been capped 42 times by the Three Lions and played in the 2018 World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia. Pickford was also part of the side that lost out to Italy in the final of last summer’s European Championship.

However, his form at club level has been patchy at times, mixing brilliance with the odd vital mistake. There is no sense that Benitez would part with the shot-stopper over his ability.

But, valued at around £30m, his departure would allow the Spaniard to focus on other areas of the pitch, according to The Sun. However, that price tag might also be an issue, with clubs traditionally unwilling to part company with those sums in the winter.

Tottenham have recently been linked with a move for the keeper. Current Spurs number one Hugo Lloris will be out of contact at the end of the campaign.

Manager Antonio Conte knows he needs to sort out the situation, with the Frenchman unlikely to sign a new deal. But the Italian is still hopeful of keeping the veteran.

“For sure we’ll have time to speak about him and I consider him an important player for his experience,” he told reporters this week.

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“He’s a good goalkeeper first of all and many years at the club, he showed always great commitment for this club.”

Pickford oblivious to pundit barbs

Pickford has been a regular for Gareth Southgate during England’s rise to the upper echelons of international football. He is now one of the most experienced players in the squad and has shown an ability to perform on the biggest stage.

But he has his critics, with Jose Mourinho in particular singling him out as a possible weak link. But it did not bother the Washington-born ace who hit back in typical bullish fashion.

“Let them talk. It’s noise,” he said at the time. “I feel like I’ve got my job to do, they’ve got their job to do.

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris

“I’m focused on doing everything I can on the training pitch like always. Giving 100 percent, always improving, trying to get that one or two percent better each time, keeping clean sheets.”

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