Early into last campaign, it became apparent where Manchester City’s problems will lie. The aging full backs that just couldn’t make the transition quick enough and of course, the NO.1 spot. The goalkeeper. The position where everything starts for a Pep Guardiola team in both attack and defense.
Being the intelligent man that he is, it’s easy to speculate that Guardiola knew he made a mistake by trusting Claudio Bravo. Yes, the Chilean goalkeeper is of a world class pedigree, yes, he is experienced and yes, he fits the profile of a sweeper keeper, but the switch of tempos, life, and playing styles seemed too difficult of a hurdle for the 33-year-old Champions League winner.
While City struggled for Champions League via the domestic league table, Sunderland wasn’t even in contention for Premier League survival. David Moyes had waived the white flag at the Stadium of Light as early as January after he failed to make significant signings in the winter transfer window.
Two bright spots, however, in the likes of Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford, have emerged from the direness at Sunderland. The former has successfully won the hearts of the fans as his place back for the England national team while the latter enjoyed his most productive season in his career despite conceding 56 times in 29 matches while managing to keep only three clean sheets.
According to some data, not De Gea, not Lloris and not Curtois, but Jordan Pickford has been the Premier League’s best goalkeeper in the past season.
He was number two in saves made, just behind Burnley’s Tom Heaton, while he was right up there in terms of punching, high claims, catches and sweeper clearances.
One stat which that makes Guardiola`s decision to not sign Jordan Pickford questionable passes. He even topped Claudio Bravo in that segment while he was the absolute best at chances created for his teammates.
Out of all the Premier League goalkeepers in the Premier League, he was the one with the best direct delivery which had earned him rave reviews from goalkeeping experts around the world.
Pep broke the English record for a goalkeeper when he cashed out €40M for Benfica`s starlet Ederson in the hope that the Brazilian will provide City with both the security and creativity between the posts and just days after, Pep`s former teammate from their Barcelona days has splashed the cash on Jordan Pickford, who was looking for a way out of Sunderland. The move was pricey, which made both fans and neutrals question Koeman`s judgment, but the Everton manager knows exactly what he`s getting for the €34M.
It’s definitely too early and too unsavory to compare the two fantastic goalkeeping prospects the Premier League has, but Guardiola`s reluctance to sign Pickford does speak volumes about his opinion of English talent.
Still, one man’s loss is another man’s gain as Pickford will be Everton`s No.1 next year, while he fights for a place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia as well.