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It’s time for Newcastle to consider signing David De Gea

The shot-stopper could be the spark we need to solidify the back as a heavy workload looms in the coming month.

Manchester City v Manchester United: Emirates FA Cup Final Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Goalkeeper Nick Pope will be out a reported four-to-five months, and with surgery scheduled for the near future, many have been wondering if Eddie Howe will use some of the January transfer budget on a stop-gap keeper to bulwark the Magpies into season’s end. Shoulder dislocations have generally positive outlooks depending on severity, but we can probably all agree that Martin Dubravka’s audition for the role is off to a rocky beginning.

While the Slovakian international enjoyed a successful career between the sticks at Tyneside after an initial loan from Sparta Prague in 2018, Pope’s arrival from Burnley in June of 2022 saw Dubravka fall out of the starting lineup immediately. Dubravka decided to leave Newcastle afterward in a somewhat acrimonious fashion, a move that ended up being a disastrous Loan Spell with Manchester United that lasted four months before his recall in January of 2023. While Dubravka played behind a reliable defense and didn’t give up a lot of goals, his time in Manchester was marred by numerous instances of nervousness and inconsistent play.

The performance versus Everton this week didn’t do the Stopper any favors, in fact, it solidified my belief that Dubravka still has what we here in the States call the “yips.” While Pope has never been one to elicit awe-based magical performances with his feet, he emanates a looming calmness and has a presence that anchors the backline. To be clear I was a huge Dubravka fan for years, I even have the amazing purple tiger Dubs jersey from the 2021-2022 season in my closet.

So I know that it’s not fair to blame everything on Dubravka. Yet that first goal is symptomatic of a major issue that we will encounter over these months. Yes, Trippier gave the ball away to Dwight McNeil in a terrible position, but everyone knows that McNeil is the only player consistently capable of scoring for the Toffees outside of a Dyche-ball cross and finish. Pope’s instincts and length could have blocked that shot in the far post and possibly helped to avoid what would ignite a 0-3 collapse from an obviously fatigued squad. And that third goal. Talk about a perfect blend of exhaustion and doubt in the flanks.

An erratic first option doesn’t make the next option any more plausible either. I put a spotlight on Loris Karius in February when he was the next man up following Pope’s red card against Liverpool FC and Dubravka’s ineligibility to compete versus Manchester United to due the aforementioned loan. Though he wasn’t necessarily to blame for either of the goals that put Newcastle to bed in his lone appearance during that spell, it’s worth revisiting this Jeepers Keepers: Liverpool flop Loris Karius article to illustrate that he’s probably not a reliable 4-5 month option either.

Now for my hot take: Move for David De Gea. The long-tenured number one at Manchester United became a free agent in June of this year after Erik Ten Hag decided to sacrifice a stable shot blocker for a keeper who was apparently an upgrade for his ability to play with his feet out of the back. While De Gea was on a reported £400,000/week (over 6 times Pope’s reported wages), it’s worth noting that De Gea did refuse a highly lucrative £500,000 weekly wage to play in Saudi Arabia this season.

Clearly, De Gea feels he has some gas left in the tank to compete at the highest level, and after winning his 2nd Golden Glove award just last season with eighteen clean sheets why shouldn’t he? Add in the fact that he was unceremoniously dumped after twelve seasons, and maybe he’s willing to seize a short-term opportunity with a Newcastle club still in Europe and fighting for top-four in an effort to galvanize his career for one more run.

After all, his issues at the back regarding limited playmaking and distribution are similar to Pope’s shortcomings in the apparent “modern game.” But what we are going to miss most about Pope is the primary responsibility of the Goalkeeper: Stopping shots. This happens to be what made De Gea the 3-time Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year in consecutive seasons in Manchester. With no transfer fee, a short-term spell, and a player who spurned the riches outside of the country that turned their back on him, he’s my pick for the best option. It doesn’t need to happen in January-we can make the move now.