[dropcap]C[/dropcap]onfirmation of Tim Howard’s imminent departure from Goodison Park has forced Everton to immediately step up the hunt for a new No.1, and early reports suggest that manager Roberto Martinez could be preparing a swoop for Ajax star Jasper Cillessen.
The Dutch international has enjoyed another fantastic season at the Amsterdam ArenA, registering 14 shutouts in 27 Eredivisie appearances and has also shown his immense ability on several occasions on the international stage too. Ajax are believed to value their 6ft 2in at around £10m and Everton aren’t the only club rumoured to be monitoring the situation. However, the Toffees are certainly considered to be the frontrunners after the announcement regarding the future of the long-serving Howard.
While the American has lost his regular starting place to Joel Robles, Martinez faces a huge battle in finding a replacement for the 37-year-old who has plied his trade on Merseyside since 2007. With Cillessen turning 27 in April, the Dutchman could be the perfect answer to Everton’s problem; not only could he challenge Robles immediately, but he also has plenty of years left in the tank.
Having originally burst onto the scene in 2010/11 at NEC Nijmegen, before moving to Amsterdam soon after, Cillessen has been one of the hottest properties in Dutch football for a number of years. But with over 100 Eredivisie appearances to his name, along with 27 international caps, this summer could be the perfect moment for the highly rated shot-stopper to make the step up to one of Europe’s top leagues.
Dutch experts onlinewedden.com believe that, should Cillessen help Ajax steal the Eredivisie crown back from PSV, he would have nothing else left to prove in his homeland. That could pave the way for his move to England; Everton appears to be the most likely destination.
For all of his attributes, the current Ajax star would be unlikely to edge out the likes of Petr Cech or Hugo Lloris at Arsenal and Spurs respectively. Similarly, in spite of heavy links last summer, his chances of stealing the gloves at Old Trafford would seem extremely unlikely, particularly if Louis van Gaal steps down before the final year of his contract. While Spaniard Robles would give him a run for his money, the Dutchman would fancy his chances at Goodison Park. If he does have ambitions of eventually progressing to one of the Premier League’s top sides, Everton could be the perfect shop window too.
Martinez will need to recruit a new goalkeeper this summer, but finding one with both young and experience won’t be easy. For an investment of just £10m plus relatively modest wages, the Toffees could certainly do a lot worse.