Any clubs hoping to take advantage of Sunderland’s recent relegation from the Premier League and snatch highly-rated young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford away from the Stadium of Light are likely to have to pay at least £30m ($39.1m) for the privilege. A rare bright light in an otherwise wretched campaign on Wearside, the England U21 international has attracted attention from a host of potential suitors including Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal following a string of excellent displays.
Sunderland are hoping that academy graduate and lifelong fan Pickford will opt to remain with the club despite their inevitable demotion to the Championship, with David Moyes believing that his support for the club could be a “telling factor if the alternative was to go and sit on the bench somewhere else”.
The subject of Pickford’s future was raised once again during a press conference held prior to the final game of the season against champions Chelsea.
Eager to reiterate that the 23-year-old has no relegation release clause akin to the one that is likely to see prolific veteran striker Jermain Defoe depart for free this summer, Moyes criticised the low figures recently bandied around in the media and insisted that it would take a sizeable offer to tempt Sunderland into selling their most prized asset.
“It would need to be a really, really big offer,”he was quoted as saying by the BBC. “I have said all through the season that sometimes on your journey, you may have to sell to improve. But I have heard some really derisory sort of figures getting mentioned, and it wouldn’t be any of those figures, I can tell you that.”
Moyes reportedly replied “yes” when asked if Pickford’s current valuation was around the £30m mark. Such a fee, if paid, would see the former Bradford City and Preston North End loanee trail only Juventus icon Gianluigi Buffon in the list of the most expensive goalkeepers in football history. Manuel Neuer, David De Gea, Claudio Bravo and Angelo Peruzzi currently round out the top five.
Injury-hit Sunderland travel to Stamford Bridge missing no fewer than 11 senior players in Jason Denayer, Papy Djilobodji, Jan Kirchhoff, George Honeyman, Wahbi Khazri, Steven Pienaar, Paddy McNair, Duncan Watmore and Victor Anichebe. Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong have also now been ruled out as they both recover from dead legs.
“We’ve got an incredible number of injuries going into this last game of the season,” Moyes lamented. “I’m nearly back to a peak point of injuries again. I’m disappointed with that, but it’s very difficult to question people that are saying they are injured.
“But what you find out is what their character is like, what people are really like. Sometimes you can’t find that out in a week or a month, it takes a full season to do that.”