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Everton youngster signs new long-term contract

Toffees goalkeeper committed to club until June 2024

Everton v Salford City - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Jon Super - Pool/Getty Images

Everton U23s goalkeeper Joao Virginia has signed a new four-year contract through to June 2024.

The 20-year-old’s current deal was due to expire next summer.

Speaking to the club’s website, the Portugal U21 international said:

“It is a bright future for me here at the club and I am so positive about it and so happy to sign this new deal.

“I feel at home here and have done since the day I joined.

“Everybody at the club made me welcome, the fans have been terrific with me, too, so I’m so pleased to sign again.”

Virginia joined the club from Arsenal in 2018 and was part of the U23 side that lifted the Premier League 2 title and the Premier League Cup.

However, his career is now at a bit of a crossroads as he looks to gain the vital first-team experience he needs at this stage of his development.

A loan spell at Championship side Reading last season looked the ideal move, but quickly turned into a disaster.

Dropped from the side after a series of mistakes, Virginia returned to Everton early in January because of a lack of regular action.

After some time back with the U23 squad, the youngster has regularly appeared on the bench for the senior side and made his competitive debut against Salford last week, keeping a clean sheet in the 3-0 win.

He could make a second appearance in the competition when the Toffees travel to Fleetwood on Wednesday.

Another loan move would probably be the best move in the medium-term as he is unlikely to break into the team regularly anytime soon (barring injury), and the club have been linked with more senior backup goalkeepers to replace the departed Maarten Stekelenburg.

But, for now, Virginia is enjoying working with Carlo Ancelotti, Marcel Brands and goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly at Finch Farm and is keen to make the most of the opportunity.

“Mr Carlo is giving me the confidence I needed and for such an experienced manager to give me the thumbs up every day in training makes me feel even more confident.

“It is amazing. The faith of Marcel Brands means a lot, too.

“Alan Kelly gives me support every day and I am learning from all his experience.

“I am always improving every day in training.

“That is how I want it to be. I feel like I have grown both as a keeper and a person [since coming to Everton], especially with how I manage the game, so I feel like a more complete goalkeeper.”