Sunday, June 26, 2022

Nick Pope’s £10m deal tells us something about Newcastle’s transfer strategy

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Newcastle complete their second deal of the summer as they agree a fee for Burnley’s goalkeeper, with transfers also on the cards for Hugo Ekitike, Sven Botman and Armando Broja, writes Mark Douglas

A £10m deal for Pope is a good deal for Newcastle as Burnley need to sell to fund the Championship’s rebuilding under Vincent Kompany. The player is due for a medical in Tyneside on Thursday, with the move likely to be confirmed ahead of the weekend in a bid to make two deals in a crucial closing season for the Magpies.

Newcastle are set to finalize a deal for England goalkeeper Nick Pope by the end of the week, which reveals a lot about Eddie Howe’s planned squad reshuffle.

Although Newcastle already have a fine goalkeeper in Martin Dubravka, Pope’s arrival shows much of what Howe is trying to build at a club laying the groundwork on and off the pitch this summer.

There was a feeling the department had grown old-fashioned as Freddie Woodman and Karl Darlow were both capable goalkeepers but Dubravka – whose own form had been up and down last season – offered no lasting competition.

Newcastle sold Woodman to Preston on Tuesday, a move that worked for both parties. The England Under-21 goalkeeper needed regular first-team football to cement his potential. Darlow could also move on this summer.

Newcastle’s move for Pope shows a desire to create new competition for places across the pitch and to keep established players on their toes. The message when the players return for pre-season next month is that there can be no complacency.

Howe was lukewarm when asked to sign for Dubravka last season and there was always a feeling Newcastle would try to add a goalkeeper. A move from Manchester United’s Dean Henderson was ruled out after initial enquiries, with Pope seen as a better alternative.

And its price tag reflects the club’s needs to work within financial fair play in the closing season.

Newcastle are still keen to sign Hugo Ekitike from Reims and Sven Botman, the highly-rated Lille defender. Latest reports in Italy say Milan have dropped their interest in the player due to the French club’s £37million valuation.

However, other targets are being found and the club are monitoring the situation with Chelsea’s Armando Broja, who enjoyed a successful season on loan at West Ham last year.

West Ham are preparing a £30m offer for the forward and Leeds are also interested. He is one of several forward targets being considered by Newcastle, who also retain their interest in Dominic Calvert-Lewin despite being given a prohibitive valuation.

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