Joao Virginia is anticipating a “bright future” with Everton after the talented Portuguese goalkeeper signed a new four-year contract with the Club until the end of June 2024.
Virginia is in contention for his second senior appearance when Everton visit Fleetwood Town for a Carabao Cup third-round tie on Wednesday – seven days after the 20-year-old kept a clean sheet on debut in the round-two victory over Salford City.
He joined from Arsenal two years ago – shortly after the appointment of Director of Football Marcel Brands – and duly had an instrumental role in Everton Under-23s’ Premier League 2 title success, recording nine shutouts in 12 appearances.
Virginia, also a Premier League Cup winner with the Club’s Under-23s in 2018/19, has been on the bench for Everton’s opening two top-flight fixtures this term.
He had time on loan with Championship Reading last season, returning in January following Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival as manager to regularly train with number one Jordan Pickford and First-Team Goalkeeper Coach Alan Kelly.
“It is a bright future for me here at the Club and I am so positive about it and so happy to sign this new deal,” Virginia told evertontv.
“I feel at home here and have done since the day I joined.
"Everybody at the Club made me welcome, the fans have been terrific with me, too, so I’m so pleased to sign again.
“Mr Carlo is giving me the confidence I needed and for such an experienced manager to give me the thumbs up every day in training makes me feel even more confident.
“It is amazing.
“The faith of Marcel Brands means a lot, too.
"Alan Kelly gives me support every day and I am learning from all his experience.
“I am always improving every day in training.
“That is how I want it to be. I feel like I have grown both as a keeper and a person [since coming to Everton], especially with how I manage the game, so I feel like a more complete goalkeeper.”
Virginia started with Benfica in his homeland before transferring to Arsenal aged 15.
A Portugal Under-21 international, he was unfazed by a Goodison debut against Salford last week.
Everton saw off the challenge of the League Two team after Ancelotti made 10 changes from the side which had opened the Premier League season by beating Tottenham Hotspur 1-0.
Italian Ancelotti subsequently confirmed he is likely to continue his rotation policy for the Carabao Cup’s initial stages.
That could mean another opportunity for Virginia at Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium, where the home side – play-off semi-finalists last term – have won their opening three games this term.
The winners host either West Ham United or Hull City in round four.
“It is an opportunity to win another game and, hopefully, have another clean sheet,” added Virginia.
“We have a great squad, even for the Carabao Cup games. We have plenty of quality and talent.
“It is important to go out there and show everyone is ready to play.
“Everyone wants to win a trophy… we want to prove to the fans we are ready to win silverware.
“Fleetwood are a good team and we have to win this match before we can think about the next round.
“We will go into the game with the same mindset as against Salford and try to play how we did in that game.”