There is palpable excitement brewing among Newcastle United supporters as their first full season under the ownership of PIF looks destined to end in Champions League qualification.
Amidst their rapid rise from relegation favourites midway through last season continues, there are several smart signings who have been instrumental for manager Eddie Howe’s men.
The arrival of Kieran Trippier and Sven Botman in defence has bought calmness and solidity, Bruno Guimaraes has been excellent in midfield and Alexander Isak has been showing the type of form in front of goal recently that begins to justify the £60m paid for his services.
However, Newcastle’s player of the season – and a key driving factor in their transformation – is goalkeeper Nick Pope.
How good has Nick Pope been for Newcastle?
Of all goalkeepers in the Premier League, Pope has the highest save percentage (78.4%), joint most clean sheets (13) and fewest goals against per 90 (0.74).
After a notably impressive display in a 3-3 draw against Manchester City in earlier in the campaign, in which Pope made a brilliant save to deny Erling Haaland, former Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given lauded him as “phenomenal“.
Newcastle striker Calum Wilson has admitted that the £100k-per-week man has been the Magpies’ star man this season, even over Botman and co.
Speaking on the Footballer’s Football podcast the England forward said:
“Nick has been our player of the season. I’m so happy for him, he’s a top lad and we all want him to get the Golden Glove.
“He’s kept us in games when we needed him and is such an important part of the puzzle. Last week against Crystal Palace he pulled off a worldie late on.”
With the millions that PIF have spent, and the many more they’re predicted to spend going forward, the measly £10m paid to relegated Burnley last summer looks like incredibly shrewd business, and maybe even makes Pope the “signing of the season” as claimed by The Chronicle.
After a long career at clubs below the elite level, Newcastle’s key man will be basking in the glory of being the number one for a team that looks destined for the Champions League.