Nick Pope could have so easily taken this spot in the XI, but in the circumstances, we feel that Bernd Leno just takes it ahead of the Englishman, despite how tough it was to separate the two.
Both of the goalkeepers switched clubs for very low fees, with Pope only going for around £10m and Leno for £5m, and they both also joined teams that weren’t expected to do much this season, but both Fulham and Newcastle have shocked many with what they have achieved. Really, the only way to separate the two is with their on-pitch performances, and even then, it is very close, but we feel that Leno just edges out a very impressive Pope.
The German has made 128 saves (around 4 saves per game) to Pope’s 78, with the two also sharing essentially the same save percentage, but the German has often had to bail out his team-mates with some fine saves, whereas Pope is not only playing in a much better squad overall, but has the division’s toughest defence in front of him, which limits him in how many saves he needs to make.
That is not a slight on Pope, but Leno has been more key to his team than Pope has to his. But despite Newcastle’s impressive campaign, Pope has made a fatal error that some may not forget - many of the Toon faithful will look back at Pope’s needless red card against Liverpool in February that ruled him out of the Carabao Cup final.
For Leno, he has been key in Fulham potentially finishing in the top half of the table after many predicted the Cottagers to be relegated at the start of the season, and for just an initial £3m plus add-ons, was a smart capture by the club.