Burnley expert Joe Redmond believes Newcastle United have signed ‘one of the best’ in Nick Pope.
Eddie Howe has been looking for a new goalkeeper all summer, craving more competition for current number one Martin Dubravka.
He’s got exactly that in Pope, who has been one of the Premier League’s best stoppers since his debut in 2017.
Following the move, Joe Redmond from Burnley podcast TurfCast has given Geordie Boot Boys the lowdown on Newcastle’s newest signing.
Nick Pope joining Newcastle is ‘very sad’
“Disappointed obviously, very sad to see him go,” Redmond said, when asked about his immediate thoughts on Pope leaving for Newcastle.
“He’s a brilliant goalkeeper who, in my opinion, should be higher up the England pecking order.
“But on the other hand I completely understand why he’s leaving – he’s much better than the Championship and deserves to be in the Premier League.”
The 30-year-old’s England aspirations will no doubt have played a part in his decision to leave Turf Moor.
It’s the World Cup this winter, and staying in the Premier League with Newcastle will increase Pope’s chances of going to Qatar. However, Redmond doesn’t think it will propel him into Gareth Southgate’s starting XI.
“Maybe, but probably not,” he said.
“Southgate loves Pickford so I can’t see him dropping him unless he has a stinker of a World Cup but I can’t see Southgate being in charge after that anyway. A couple of seasons ago when Pickford had a terrible season for Everton, Pope was one of the best keepers in the league on stats – he still didn’t get anywhere near.
“Southgate has his favourites and unfortunately for Nick, Pickford is one of them.”
Playing out from the back is a concern
The one criticism that gets volleyed at Pope is his ability to play out from the back, and Redmond thinks it could be an issue for him at St James’ Park.
“It’s definitely valid [the criticism],” he said.
“He would often get pressed and then kick the ball out of play when an easier pass was on.
“It’s a sign of the modern game though that a keeper needs to be good with his feet. In terms of shot stopping and catching the ball he’s right up there, but his feet will let him down if you want to play out from the back.”
Whether this hinders Pope in a Newcastle shirt will largely depend on Howe decides to play. His Newcastle team aren’t pass masters by any stretch of the imagination, but Howe does like his keeper to be competent in possession.
Pope tipped to replace Dubravka immediately
Newcastle’s newest recruit will compete with Dubravka to be Newcastle’s number one, but who should Howe go with?
“Pope all day,” he said.
“When it comes to out and out goalkeeping he’s up there with the best. His shot stopping and catching is quality – if Howe does want his goalkeeper to be good on the ball then he may prefer Dubravka but I can’t see Pope going somewhere where he wouldn’t be number one, especially in a World Cup year.
“My guess is Pope will already have assurances that he’ll be playing regular football.”
The answer to that golden question will no doubt come true when Newcastle kick off the new season against Nottingham Forest on August 6th.