Joel Robles is "not learning" at Everton and the club need to replace the Spaniard if they are to challenge the Premier League elite, according to one-time Toffees defender Michael Ball. Robles has delivered a number of impressive performances since ousting Dutch veteran Maarten Stekelenburg at the end of last year, but the former Wigan Athletic stopper has made several costly mistakes in recent matches.
His most recent gaffe came in his side's 3-1 victory over Burnley on Saturday (15 April) when he conceded a penalty for a bizarre and needless challenge on Sam Vokes, who scored the resulting spot-kick.
Ball, who played for Everton between 1996 and 2001, believes the 26-year-old has been steady for Ronald Koeman's men but says his penchant for "silly mistakes" means he is unlikely to be starting between the sticks at Goodison Park next year.
"It's as if Joel Robles is not learning," Ball wrote in his column for The Liverpool Echo. "Ever since the Spaniard came back into the Everton side on a regular basis around the turn of the year, he's made some crucial saves at important times.
"For the most part, Robles has been quite steady. But what you cannot deny is that he continues to make silly mistakes, and none sillier than against Burnley on Saturday when he conceded a penalty. In the end, it didn't matter as Everton won 3-1 but next season, or in games against sides better than the Clarets, it will cost us. For a side chasing the top four, that cannot happen."
Koeman is keen to strengthen a number of positions during the summer transfer window and a goalkeeper is high up on his list of targets. Sunderland's Jordan Pickford and Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel have been heavily linked with moves to Merseyside, and Ball, who worked under Koeman at PSV Eindhoven, thinks the Dutchman's ruthless nature will lead to Robles seeking pastures new,
"Signing a new goalkeeper in the summer is a priority and knowing the Dutch football mentality as I do... Koeman and his staff will be making blunt assessments on the current squad," Ball added.
"They will be asking: how many of this squad would get into any of the sides currently in the top four? Robles wouldn't. And having a good goalkeeper can make the difference. Make the difference between winning leagues or not, getting into the Champions League or not."