Everton have confirmed the signing of 18-year-old goalkeeper Joao Virginia from Arsenal on a three-year deal.
The Gunners recruited the highly-rated Portuguese from the Benfica academy in 2015 and he’d started to make a mark in London appearing for both the under-18s and under-23s last season. He also played in goal for his country as they won this summer’s under-19 European Championships in Finland.
He’d been expected to compete with Matt Macey and Dejan Iliev for more game time at under-23 level, so news of his departure is something of a shock.
Our resident Arsenal youth expert Jeorge Bird expects 17-year-old Estonian Karl Jakub Hein, who signed in May, to fill the gap.
Virginia to Everton move is really, really strange. Lack of goalkeepers at U23 level now for Arsenal, imagine Hein will step up. Virginia such a talented goalkeeper, big blow to lose him.
— Jeorge Bird (@jeorgebird) August 3, 2018
Speaking about his move to Goodison Park, Virginia told the Everton website: “I am really happy to be at Everton.
“I hope to learn a lot from the goalkeepers here, Jordan Pickford, who had a great season and World Cup and Maarten Stekelenburg, who is very experienced, too. This is a great opportunity for me.”
Virginia is the third youth keeper to leave Arsenal this summer. Hugo Keto and Ryan Huddart were both released and have gone on to sign for Brighton and Boreham Wood respectively.