Nick Pope has finalised his £10m move to Newcastle United a few days ago. Newcastle moved swiftly for Pope after Burnley went down. The move suits both parties really well, Pope gets to be a part of a new exciting project with huge potential and Newcastle get a top-quality GK with years of experience at this level and one who’s in his prime years.
A SOLID FIT
Newcastle lineup in a 4-3-3 and defend quite deep. With the arrival of Pope and potentially Botman, Newcastle could gain some advantage in pushing up the pitch. Pope isn’t the perfect sweeper-keeper but he completes a lot of actions outside of his area. Both players add size to their backline and dealing with crosses should look better next season. Nick Pope’s strengths lie mostly in high claims, good shot-stopping and reactions on and off his line.
This is Newcastle’s 5th signing out of 6 (since winter) with vast Premier League experience under their belt after Trippier, Burn, Targett, and Wood which gives us an idea of what Howe wants his team core to be made of. It’s something to keep an eye on in the future.
IS NICK POPE ACTUALLY AN UPGRADE?
Rating GKs is tough on the eye. Teams play different styles and judging a GK’s game is difficult business until they’re in an environment where ball playing (for example’s sake) or else is what’s specifically asked of them. However, we can make comparisons between GKs quite easily with the amount of statistical data available out there these days.
Martin Dubravka has served Newcastle well over the years, there’s no doubt about that. A solid GK who’s been through ups and downs with Newcastle. But he isn’t getting any younger at 33 and when an opportunity like Pope arises, you pounce. Let’s take a look at where does he fit and how both compare.
NICK POPE VS MARTIN DUBRAVKA
Across the last 3 seasons, Pope has on average saved 0.22 goals a game. Dubravka ranks much higher in that regard, saving his team a whopping 0.53 goals a game.
Pope has conceded 134 from an xG of 138.5, with 4.5 goals saved in that time.
Dubravka on the other hand conceded 112 goals from an xG of 123.5, with 11.5 goals saved in that time.
Here’s how they compare this season:
Howe isn’t afraid to play ball in his own half, starting from the keeper. But are Pope/Dubravka one of those keepers?
Pope completes 15 passes (49%) per 90 while Dubravka stands at 21 (63%).
With Pope as the better kicker, he gets more distance on his completed passes with a differential between the two of 23 yards in Pope’s favour.
These metrics have a lot to do with what’s asked of them. Judging Pope’s short passing game is something we can only fully judge with time in a passing side but don’t expect Pope to be an amazing short passer under pressure.
This is an area where Pope gazumps Dubravka. He isn’t afraid to rush out when his team gets caught higher up the pitch and numbers back it up.
Pope ranks among the elite (99th percentile) when it comes to defensive actions outside of the penalty area with a 1.75 actions per90. He also goes quite high up the pitch with his attempts at an average of 18 yards away from the goal.
Dubravka ranks a lot lower here with only 0.35 actions per90. He also intervenes a lot deeper than Pope at 13 yards from goal.
Martin Dubravka is a fine GK, but Nick Pope has an edge over him. And he’s 3 years younger.
Could Newcastle have done better? Probably. But Nick Pope is a safe option, he doesn’t need any time to adjust and slots in straight away. A commander of his box with a huge wingspan and great reflexes. He’s also surprisingly strong when sweeping from behind the backline, something Dubravka isn’t comfortable with. Decent deal all in all.