Saturday 24 March 2018

Local boy Pickford looks set to lead Sunderland exodus

Sunderland's Jordan Pickford. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters
Sunderland's Jordan Pickford. Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

Luke Edwards

There are always departures after relegation and, while there are plenty of players Sunderland will not miss or remember fondly, the impending sale of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will break hearts on Wearside, including his own.

It is probably not a case of whether Pickford leaves this summer, but rather for how much.

As the most valuable asset in a squad that will be ripped apart - regardless of whether David Moyes remains as manager - to reboot in the Championship, the sale of a local boy and an outstanding talent will hurt.

The goalkeeper's list of admirers is long and his reputation continued to soar with his match-winning display in Saturday's 2-0 win at Hull.

Pickford could not save Sunderland from relegation, but his saves against Hull, tipping away Lazar Markovic's header and making a point-blank stop to deny Abel Hernández, may well have relegated the Tigers, who slipped into the bottom three after Marco Silva's first home defeat as manager.

They could join Moyes' side in the Championship next season if they lose at Crystal Palace next Sunday.

Given that Pickford is likely to make the England squad for next year's World Cup if he continues to play in the Premier League, there will be people around him who will argue his career is more important than loyalty to the club he supports.

Arsenal, Everton, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and West Ham are all keeping a close eye on Pickford.

A cash offer of £25m, plus add-ons, is likely to be too tempting to resist.

"At the moment, I really wouldn't know what the odds are on him staying," said Moyes, after goals from Billy Jones and Jermain Defoe secured his side's first win since February.

"Obviously, it's up to the club, but if Jordan was to go elsewhere and not be the No 1, that wouldn't be good for him."

Moyes added: "We have not had that (winning feeling) for a long time and it is good for the players to feel better about themselves."

For Hull, this was a terrible result which could prove catastrophic, just as Silva looked to have plotted a route to safety.

"It will be very hard to bounce back from this," said centre-back Harry Maguire, another player who will be looking for a new club if his team go down. "But it's all still to play for and we have to go to Crystal Palace now and win." © Daily Telegraph, London.

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