It’s official, white smoke has risen above St James’ Park to confirm that Newcastle has its pope.
The Premier League club had fun revealing goalkeeper Nick Pope on Thursday night after his £10million move from Burnley was completed.
On the Magpies’ social media, the move was announced with an amusing video showing white smoke above St James’ Park.
In Vatican City, white smoke emerging above the Sistine Chapel means a new pope has been elected and Newcastle couldn’t resist having a little fun with his name.
Pope said: “Now that I’m here, I can’t wait to get started.
“The deal took a few weeks to come through, but it happened very quickly and I’m delighted to be here and really looking forward to it.”
Pope, who has eight England caps to his name, arrives at St James’ Park – where he will reunite with former team-mate Chris Wood – having established himself as a formidable performer during his six years at Turf Moor, during which he made 141 league appearances for the Clarets.
He will provide stiff competition to current number one Martin Dubravka, with the Slovakia international having largely outplayed Karl Darlow – linked with a summer departure – under Howe and his predecessors Rafael Benitez and Steve Bruce.
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Howe said: “Nick is an outstanding goalkeeper in the Premier League and internationally so I am very happy to add strong competition to a very important position.
“There has been a lot of interest in him from other clubs this summer, so I would like to thank our owners and everyone behind the scenes for pushing us forward in the competition.
“I am delighted to have him join us as we prepare for the exciting challenge ahead of us.”
A renowned shot-stopper, Pope kept nine clean sheets in the Premier League last season but couldn’t prevent Burnley from slipping out of the Premier League.
His quick return to the top flight will do little to hurt his chances of making Gareth Southgate’s squad for the World Cup final later this year.
He becomes Howe’s second summer signing, along with full-back Matt Targett, who enjoyed a hugely successful loan spell at Tyneside in the second half of last season after making a permanent move.
However, the recruitment drive, which has accelerated since sporting director Dan Ashworth took over, continues, with central defense and attacking options now front and center.
They have been locked in negotiations with Lille over defender Sven Botman and are awaiting a response from Reims striker Hugo Ekitike but, after chasing both men during the winter transfer window, are starting to lose patience and turn to alternative targets.
For all their new buying power – they invested around £94million in new signings in January – Newcastle’s spending to date has been shrewd, with Kieran Tripper, Dan Burn, Targett and now Pope all men with extensive top-flight experience, having arrived for a total outlay of less than £50million.
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