Manchester United have reportedly been handed a boost in their potential pursuit of Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
The Sun have claimed that the Toffees are fearful of losing their No 1 to United and are preparing a move for Sam Johnstone to replace the outgoing Englishman.
Johnstone is reported to have a £10 million release clause which could be activated by Everton in the event Pickford, a “priority transfer” for Erik ten Hag, is lured away by United.
Johnstone, a former United academy product, lost his starting spot at Crystal Palace last year but is a proven Premier League-level player.
United’s interest in Pickford, and links to goalkeepers at large, has peaked recently as reports emerge of David de Gea looking increasingly unlikely to stay at the club.
The Spaniard, who is United’s highest earner with wages of £375,000/week, was not on the club’s retained list for next season and early optimism over a new contract is fading away.
There has even been talk of a “salary swap” with Marcus Rashford which would mean De Gea taking a huge pay cut with a new contract worth £200k/week.
It remains to be seen if the long-serving goalie agrees to such a big pay-cut without any guarantees of being first-choice.
Consequently, United have started due diligence on a number of keeper targets, Pickford being among them.
The Englishman’s playing style is more suited to Ten Hag’s side, with his ability to command his box and elite passing skills making him more comfortable in a “sweeper-keeper” role.
Furthermore, signing a player brought up in England helps with the registration rules.
In a summer where the club is resigned to losing English players and youth products like Scott McTominay, Brandon Williams and Harry Maguire, Pickford’s signing will soothe registration concerns as well.
Moreover, the Evertonian is expected to be a cheaper option than other targets like Andre Onana, where the two teams remain quite a way off in terms of valuation.
It remains to be seen whether the Johnstone links have any legs, but in a transfer window where the list of missed opportunities is getting longer, it could be a boost to United’s prospects.