Newcastle United may want to start shopping around for a new goalkeeper in the summer.
Nick Pope is undoubtedly one of, if not the best shot-stopper in the Premier League, but the modern game has moved beyond having someone between the sticks who is just good at keeping the ball out of the net.
Today's goalkeepers need to be good with their feet, they need to be confident receiving the ball back from their defenders and have the ability to distribute it to another player to set up an attack, and unfortunately, that's where Pope falls short.
We've seen it too many times recently where the ball has gone back to Pope and he's just shanked it out of play. There have also been occasions where he's rushed off his line and the rapid intake of breath in the stadium as the fans pray he doesn't do something stupid like he did against Liverpool last season has shifted the gravitational pull around St James' Park.
Pope has already lost his place in the England side and given how many clean sheets he has kept for us, it can only be because Gareth Southgate doesn't trust his footwork.
We feel we may have found the answer in Valencia's 23-year-old Georgian 'keeper Giorgi Mamardashvili. He's got cat-like reflexes and is a good shot-stopper, perhaps not as good as Pope yet, but in goalkeeper terms he's still a baby and can only get better.
Tottenham, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester United have all been touted as being interested in Mamardashvili and we think Newcastle should add their name to the ever-growing list of interested parties.
He is better with his feet than Pope already, however. Mamardashvili modelled himself on Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
“It’s obviously great to be compared to him because he has achieved a lot at his age already. I was always looking at his progress closely and using it as an example to keep developing.”
We're not saying, by any means, that we've lost faith in Nick Pope or that we want him gone, but there are better options out there and getting someone young like Mamardashvili through the door early can only be good for us and for him ... and for Pope if we're being honest.
Right now Pope knows there's no real competition behind him, but if someone young and hungry comes in, someone like Mamardashvili who has been Valencia's number 1 for a couple of years and knows he's good enough for a starting spot, it could push Pope to graft even harder.
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