England’s Jordan Pickford described as the world’s best ‘keeper at long passes

England’s Jordan Pickford described as the world’s best ‘keeper at long passes

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic has lauded the distribution of England shot-stopper Jordan Pickford, hailing him the world’s best goalkeeper at long passes.    

The Everton man played a key role as the Three Lions came from behind to defeat the World Cup finalists in a UEFA Nations League match on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate’s side triumphed 2-1, securing top spot in Group A4, which ultimately sends the nation to the finals in June 2019.

Pickford, 24, looked assured between the sticks, but it was the Evertonian’s ball-playing technique that caught the eye of Dalic, who registered an 83% pass success rate – nearly double that of Lovre Kalinic in the Croatia goal.

Dalic told reporters (via Liverpool Echo): “The first option for England is to play possession ball, but if you press them high, as we saw against Spain, Pickford is probably the best goalkeeper in the world with long passes. It’s a great second option for them.”

Pickford has been sensational since relocating to Goodison Park from Sunderland, and as such, he has been linked with a move to Manchester United, with David de Gea’s future in uncertain territory.

However, club legend Gary Neville has recently called into question the capacity of Pickford to truly become an all-time goalkeeping great.

“I thought he [Pickford] was a risk before the World Cup. It was one of the points I was most nervous about,” Neville said.

“I actually think international football suits him a lot in the sense of the way the team play.

“I think the fact you get more time to play out the back than you normally would in the Premier League.

“I think he’s suited to international football. I was nervous about him before the World Cup but he’s winning me over slowly.

“He’s not my idea of what a goalkeeper should be. I always though a keeper should be dominant.

“There are so many keepers now of his ilk and his stature and his ability in terms of agility that you have to change with the times.

“I was always of the Peter Schmeichel [style], the big presence. He [Pickford] doesn’t look huge in goal but is agile and does make great saves.

Where does Pickford rank among the Premier League’s goalkeepers?

Pickford ranked 17th for Premier League goalkeepers in terms of the number of long ball passes he has made this season with 52, while Mat Ryan (91), Joe Hart (90) and Jonas Lossl (86) made up the top three.

His average distribution length is 44.21m which ranks him 13th, showing the former Sunderland goalkeeper prefers to play out from the back as much as possible, with 136 passes – 11th highest.

The Washington-born player also has a distribution accuracy of 36.9% and a goal kick success rate of 52.2%, which largely places Pickford in the middle bracket of distribution for Premier League goalkeepers this season.