Keeper Begovic Sets Everton Targets

Asmir Begovic wants to be a “leader” in Everton’s dressing room and provide fierce competition for “world-class” Jordan Pickford.

Goalkeeper Begovic signed a one-year deal with a Club option for a second year after completing a transfer from AFC Bournemouth on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old, part of Chelsea’s Premier League-winning squad in 2016/17, is targeting European football with Everton – and insists he can learn and improve under Rafael Benitez and goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly.

Begovic, who has 63 caps for Bosnia, had time on loan with Qarabag in Azerbaijan and 18-times Italian champions AC Milan during four years with Bournemouth.

“When I first heard of the possibility of joining Everton, I was really excited,” Begovic told evertontv.

“Opportunities like this don’t come round every day so I’m just really honoured and pleased to be here.

“I’m definitely here to compete. 

“Jordan is a world-class goalkeeper and I think the group here is fantastic.

“We have a great goalkeeper coach in Alan Kelly.

"We are going to push each other every single day and set those standards in training.

“I’m going to look to help in whatever way I can… with a bit of leadership around the group and trying to be a positive influence. Not just on Jordan but on all my teammates.

“The talent at this club over the years has been amazing.

"It is no different now, with a lot of good players coming through, especially in the goalkeeping department.

“If I can help them in any way, shape or form, then I would love to do that and set an example: train well, play well and hopefully help them [emerging players] along in their careers.”

Begovic has made 252 Premier League appearances for Portsmouth, Stoke City, Chelsea and Bournemouth, recording 61 clean sheets in the competition.

He played 45 Championship matches in his final Bournemouth campaign – and both legs of a play-off semi-final – and remains keen to exert an on-field influence.

The appetite for honours to add to that Premier League title is voracious, too.

“I want to be part of a successful club and with the squad we have, the fan base, everything is in place for us to be successful,” said Begovic.

“To work with people of [Rafael Benitez and Director of Football Marcel Brands'] calibre is really pleasing for me and I'm looking forward to learning from them.

“The ambition is to get this club where it belongs… that has to be challenging for those European spots, challenging for the domestic trophies and being in the upper echelon of the league.

“With the squad we have and now bringing in a couple of experienced players and that winning mentality, I don't see why that's not doable.

“I love to play the game. When I’m out there, I try to be as consistent as I can in all areas of the game and be that dependable, reliable goalkeeper for the team.

“I've tried to be a positive influence on my teammates: communicate well, support them and really work as a back unit as well as we can.”

Begovic came to England with Portsmouth in 2003 and after transferring to Stoke in February 2010 stayed more than five years, recording 50 shutouts in 173 matches across the competitions for the Potteries team.

And Begovic, who counted 38-year-old striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a teammate at AC Milan, intends to remain at the top of the game for a long time yet.

“He [Ibrahimovic] was a huge inspiration for that… I was able to work with him and learn from him,” said Begovic.

“I’m looking forward to playing for as many years as I can.

“I have never really put a limit on it but I feel great. I like to learn every day. I think I have a lot to offer on the pitch. Hopefully, I can do that for many more years.

“I've played against Everton numerous times, played at Goodison numerous times, and what you know is, this is a humungous club.

"It's a big club that deserves to be at the highest level. With the fanbase, the tradition we have, the facilities, the squad – we really need to get back into European football."

On the prospect of working with manager Benitez, who has won 13 major trophies in four countries, and keeper coach Kelly, Begovic added: “Just in my first couple of conversations with him [Benitez], it's clear he has a massive knowledge of the game.

“He has an incredible track record in terms of what he's achieved and accomplished. To work for those sorts of managers is very good for me.

“The first impressions [of Kelly] were great.

“He’s been in the game a long time, worked at the highest level and has great experience.

“He’s someone I can certainly learn from and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can.”