COMMENT By Matt Bullin

Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will never move to derby rivals Newcastle.

The 23-year-old has enjoyed a superb first season in the top flight, he has earned two call-ups to the senior England squad and was even nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

However, Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship was confirmed on Sunday, and the club’s survival has been in question since the turn of the year, meaning that clubs are queuing up to sign the Washington-born goalkeeper.

Everton have been touted by Sky Bet as the heavy favourites to sign Pickford following his side’s relegation, but according to a Sun report Newcastle have also emerged as their main rivals and are reportedly ready to offer the shot-shopper a £75,000 per week contract.

However a move to the Toon is unlikely to ever materialise because of Pickford’s loyalty to the Black Cats.

Pickford has become a fan favourite at the Stadium of Light this term, and has been at the club since 2010 on a youth scholarship deal.

Since then and after numerous loan spells he has established himself as Sunderland’s number one choice goalkeeper, making 29 appearances in all competitions this campaign.

The path from Sunderland to Newcastle is not a well-trodden one, but Jack Colback did make the switch in 2014.

However, Pickford has vowed to never make the same move as his former team-mate did – and Sunderland fans will be delighted, despite their club being relegated to the Championsip.

Speaking to Sky Sports, as quoted by the Chronicle Live, the 23-year-old said: “I would never do that. I couldn’t do it myself. I would never go to Newcastle.

“[Leaving] is not something I’ve looked at yet and it’s not something I want to look at either.”

These quotes are an undoubted blow to Newcastle’s plans to sign him, and it seems even the chance of continuing his career in the Premier League with them would not convince him to make the switch.

However,  with a 2018 World Cup spot up for grabs he may well have to look to move elsewhere in the Premier League to strengthen his claim.

In other Newcastle news, Paul Merson has claimed he expects to see Rafa Benitez leave the club in the summer.

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