The 30-year-old, who Shay Given once dubbed “phenomenal“, has played in all six of the club’s Premier League matches so far and has averaged a sublime SofaScore rating of 7.53 – the second-highest in the squad.
However, Newcastle appear to be thinking about life beyond the ex-Claret stopper already as they have been touted with an interest in Porto’s Diogo Costa.
The Magpies are reportedly eyeing him up for a January transfer and the Portuguese giants are said to value him at £21.6m, despite him having a £51.9m release clause.
Dan Ashworth could now land the dream heir to Pope at St. James’ Park by snapping up a deal to sign the 22-year-old in the winter market.
Costa could come in as back-up or competition for the former Burnley man to begin with before succeeding him between the sticks in the future, as he is eight years younger than the Englishman.
One of the England international’s biggest strengths is his ability to sweep up behind his defence. He excels at running off his line to deal with dangerous crosses and through balls, instead of being rooted to the spot and allowing the opposition to take advantage of space in-behind.
Pope ranks in the 99th and 98th percentile for defensive actions outside of the box and the average distance of those actions per 90 respectively, among players in his position in Europe’s top five leagues over the last 365 days.
Costa is also one of the best goalkeepers around in terms of sweeping. He ranks in the 94th and 96th percentile for the two aforementioned statistics, based on his performances in European competitions over the last 365 days.
This shows that both players are perfect for a team playing a high line. Eddie Howe knows that he can instruct his defence to sit higher up the pitch because he knows that Pope can deal with the oppositions attempts to play the ball into the space it leaves, with Costa able to fulfill this role as well.
Howe wants his team to press high and force turnovers and having a goalkeeper capable of sweeping is crucial to that, as it allows the rest of the team to push on without fear of being exposed defensively.
Talent scout Jacek Kulig dubbed Costa “The Wall” after he won his fifth goalkeeper of the month award in the Portuguese top-flight last season, which illustrates how impressive he was in 2021/22 as he caught the eye with his displays between the sticks.
Therefore, he has the potential to be an excellent, long-term, signing for the Magpies as his goalkeeping style fits in with Howe’s way of playing and he is a young player who has put in strong performances in Portugal, whilst gaining experience in the Champions League.
Ashworth must work his magic in January to strike a deal for the gem so that he can come in to compete for the number one shirt with Pope, with a view to being his heir in the future as he continues to develop and hone his skills.