Two of their best players, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard, have been long-term targets for Real Madrid and as Everton have found out in the past, when the biggest teams in the world come calling, footballers choose to leave and often down tools when not allowed to do so.
So we are seeing now with Courtois, with Sky Sports reporting that the Belgian international has gone AWOL, having not reported to training this morning when all the players who were at the World Cup semifinals return to their respective teams.
A few days ago we’d heard mostly in the media that Chelsea were building a shortlist of keepers to replace Courtois, and the Blues’ Jordan Pickford headed that list. Earlier today, Sky clarified that Everton had successfully repelled the advances of the Stamford Bridge side for him, instead turning their attentions to Pickford’s England back-up Jack Butland at Stoke City.
“The (other) Blues have switched their attention to the Stoke goalkeeper after Everton refused to negotiate over Jordan Pickford and Sky Sports News has been told there has already been informal contact between Chelsea and Stoke City at boardroom level.”
This is great news for Everton fans on two fronts. Firstly it means Marcel Brands and Marco Silva know they have a world class goalie on their hands, an increasingly rare commodity nowadays, and are going to do whatever it takes to keep him at the Blues for the next few years. A bumper improved contract for starters would be good.
Secondly, it also means that Pickford’s head wasn’t turned by Chelsea fluttering their eyelashes at him which is an excellent sign of the player’s commitment to the project at Everton, for now at least.