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Arsenal academy graduate Joao Virginia is a beneficiary of the recent increase in Premier League substitutes, consistently making the Everton first-team squad.
On Sunday, Joao Virginia made his fourth appearance in the Everton senior squad since the football restart, travelling to Wolverhampton with the team.
Some of you may remember the goalkeeper from the 2017/18 season with the Arsenal youth teams. He helped the Gunners reach the FA Youth Cup final that year and played a couple of the late Premier League 2 fixtures as they won the title, including starting the title-winning game.
After that, the teenager decided he’d move on to Everton, believing he’d get more chances. His first year went well, as he kept nine clean sheets in 13 u23 games and Everton won the title.
After Virginia’s second PL2 title win in successive years, he wanted senior football. He got a loan out to Reading this season, but a poor start to the campaign saw him drop out of the team after two games.
The 20-year-old only made one further appearance before returning to Everton. Clearly, not the best introduction to the senior game.
Things are starting to look up now. Sunday was Virginia’s fifth appearance in Everton’s Premier League squad, and it could start to lead to more in the near future.
Right now, Jordan Pickford is the number one under Carlo Ancelotti, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. However, Maarten Stekelenburg is the club’s backup, and the 37-year-old is set to leave this summer.
It certainly seems like Ancelotti is preparing Virginia to take over the backup role. With the potential financial restrictions this summer, they may have no choice but to settle for an internal solution. The former Gunner will hope so, anyway.