The genius Newcastle United short-term goalkeeper option who could end Nick Pope woes
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On Saturday night, as the dying embers of a comfortable Newcastle United win began to dim contentedly, Nick Pope's shoulder was ripped from its socket. With the dislocation inevitably came an injection of agony, a measure of confusion, and a tense, reflective period of sudden directionless. In fact, to that end, you could argue that Pope's shoulder and David de Gea have quite a lot in common.
Like the England international's popped joint, the Spaniard was cruelly and forcibly removed from a place in which he had become rather functionally snug when released by Manchester United over the summer. Since then, he has wandered the hinterlands of relevancy like a post-apocalyptic nomad, desperately seeking some kind of stable abode.
And as Pope comes to terms with the prospect of potential surgery and a period of four to five months watching from the terraces, his misfortune may well prove to be the redemptive opening that De Gea has been foraging for, like a hermit crab stumbling across the abandoned shell of one of its fallen brethren.
You see, according to the Daily Mail, Newcastle are considering a possible short-term swoop for the 33-year-old that would see him parachuted in as their number one while their usual first choice performs a series of local community appearances in a comically large sling. It remains to be seen whether the same doctors who patch Pope up will have anything to mend the respective broken hearts of Martin Dubravka and Loris Karius.
And while it is true that De Gea was quietly escorted out of Old Trafford under a cloud of mild ignominy, this might not be the worst idea that the Magpies' recruitment staff have ever had - assuming, of course, that there is any truth whatsoever in the Mail's report.
For all of his simmering faults, the former Manchester United stalwart is still a goalkeeper capable of the sublime and the otherworldly. While his errors became vilified to the point of irredeemable during the latter stages of his stint in the North West, the reality is that the raw statistics tell of a stopper who contributed far more than he squandered. Last season, for instance, De Gea conceded 65 goals from an xCG of 72.18, meaning that he prevented more than seven deserved strikes over the course of the campaign. As a point of comparison, Pope conceded 40 goals from an xCG of 47.52 last term, outdoing the Spaniard by a relatively meagre 0.34.
And then there is the matter of De Gea's big game experience. Whether it be in the Champions League, or more likely, the Europa League, Newcastle could be in contention for a decent continental streak once the new year gathers itself and settles into a steady rhythm. There isn't a single player in Eddie Howe's squad who can hold a candle to the former Old Trafford star in terms of his European experience, and in that regard, he could be a canny addition to a dressing room that fizzes with potential but perhaps lacks know-how when it comes to consistently applying it.
Make no mistake, nobody is suggesting for one moment that De Gea should be brought in as a long-term challenger for Pope's number one jersey at St. James' Park, but if the Magpies are intent on providing cover for their crocked stopper, then they could do far, far worse than a player who, by rights, should have been snapped up - on a free transfer, no less - by a club of their calibre several weeks ago.