When you spend £30m on a goalkeeper, you expect him to jump off the page. There had better be something that separates him and makes him world class. On early returns, Jordan Pickford checks a lot of boxes: he’s commanding in the area, confident when coming out to catch crosses, communicates well and isn’t afraid to tell off a veteran like Wayne Rooney, but his truly outstanding feature is his long range distribution. Here are a couple of absolutely prime examples:
On this one, he actually picks up an assist playing for the England U21s:
Also for the U21s, this is a goal kick. There was a window exactly the size of the ball where this thing could have gone to be successful, and he found it:
This is from yesterday against Hajduk Split, and is completely reactionary. He took no time to weigh this thing but it was nevertheless perfect.
Approaching a game against Manchester City where Everton is likely to spend a decent part of the match pinned back, having a keeper who can pick out an attacker from this range could be the key to Everton gaining a result. It makes our keeper not only a lynchpin on a thus far improved defence, but also a valuable contributor on the offensive end of the pitch.
Pickford’s ability on the ball is a high risk, high reward endeavour - sometimes things go nearly horribly wrong when he slices a clearance straight at a forward, but that will happen for now, he’s only 23 years old. That is young for any footballer but for a goalkeeper he could easily still have much more than a decade to refine his skills and perform at a very high level. His fee was a lot for a keeper but I’m very glad to see these passes are for us not against us.