Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has signed a new four-and-a-half year contract with Sunderland, keeping him at the Stadium of Light until 2020. The England Under-21 international has only made two senior appearances for the Black Cats but has already been linked with moves to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
The Express understands both United and Spurs were interested in the north east-born 'keeper but any plans to lure the youngster have been dashed by this latest display of commitment. Following six loan spells in the past four years, Pickford returned from his time with Preston North End and was immediately promoted into the first team.
The 21-year-old made his debut in the FA Cup third-round defeat to Arsenal and then made his maiden Premier League appearance against Tottenham in a 4-1 loss at White Hart Lane. He is thrilled to have committed his future to his boyhood club and is hopeful of further first-team opportunities.
"I am over the moon," he told the Sunderland official website. "It has been a great season and I have been rewarded for my hard work. Being a Sunderland fan and signing for another four-and-a-half years I can't ask for much more. I just need to keep working hard day in, day out.
"It is nice to get it out of the way. Hopefully I can get in the side. Preston was top draw as a loan move playing week in, week out in the Championship. Coming back to make by debut I have benefited.
"Obviously that [debut against Tottenham] was not expected to play but I took it well. I conceded four goals but I thought I was hard done by. I've got to be patient but when I get in the side I need to take my chance."
Tottenham currently possess arguably the best senior goalkeeping pair in the top flight with Hugo Lloris supported by Dutchman Michel Vorm. United meanwhile are also well stocked in the goalkeeping department with Argentina international Sergio Romero the deputy to David de Gea.
The transfer ban handed down to Real Madrid by Fifa for breaching regulations regarding the signing of young players is expected to further delay De Gea's return to the Spanish capital, after coming close to leaving United for the Bernabeu club in the summer of 2015. De Gea has since signed a new contract at Old Trafford and has been among the outstanding performers during an uncertain campaign for Louis van Gaal's side.
However, should Real either win an appeal against Fifa's ban or have the sanctions postponed then Zinedine Zidane's side could reignite their interest in De Gea which could be the catalyst for United venturing into the market. Number two Romero has made five appearances in all competitions this season but is not seen as the future in the United goal.