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CONFIRMED: Joao Virginia goes to Sporting on season-long loan

The young goalkeeper badly needs some playing time, likely will get it in Lisbon

Everton v Manchester City: The Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final Photo by Laurence Griffiths - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Young goalkeeper Joao Virginia is headed to Portugal on loan for the season. Unconfirmed reports say that Sporting Club de Portugal (aka Sporting Lisbon) will cover half of his unconfirmed £10,000-per-week contract, and will also have a deal to buy the player outright for £3 million at the end of the season should they choose to do so. The 21-year-old still on contract with Everton through till the end of the 2023-24 season following an extension he signed early last season.

Virginia was on the Everton first team squad for most of last season, playing a handful of games for the Under-23s here and there. The youngster started in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup against Manchester City with both Jordan Pickford and Robin Olsen unavailable, and bravely held off the eventual Premier League champions before two late goals ended Everton’s tournament. He also played a half against Burnley as well as started in the Carabao Cup Third Round win over Salford.

The goalkeeper was one of the five players reportedly in isolation last weekend but was cleared to fly this week for his medical on Thursday in Lisbon. His loan spell at Reading in the Championship in the first half of the 2019-20 proved to be an unmitigated disaster with handling errors early on in his tenure dooming him to a spot on the bench and then eventually out of the playing squad altogether and he returned to the Toffees in January.

Plucked by the Blues from the Arsenal youth system in the summer of 2018, the Portuguese youth international remains a player with a lot of potential, but will need to get a run in senior competition to rebuild his confidence and allow him to gain some consistency. At Sporting, he is expected to start as backup to veteran Antonio Adán who is the default starter after the sale of Luis Maximiliano was confirmed earlier this week.

The goalkeeper cabinet in the Everton youth system isn’t necessarily stacked, but Under-23 starter Harry Tyrer is a legitimate prospect and Zan-Luk Leban and Jack Barrett are also well-regarded.