So it will come as little surprise to see Burnley’s Nick Pope has made the record percentage of long forward passes (at least 40 metres, with a span angle of 90°) at big-5 league level this season, with 73.1%, ahead of CA Osasuna’s Sergio Herrera with 72.2%.
No doubt that statistic will come down in time, under interim boss Mike Jackson, with the England international noticeably rolling the ball out at the back more often, rather than get it forward quickly, as was the norm previously under Sean Dyche.
The 381st CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post analyses the passing game of goalkeepers from 36 leagues worldwide, as per data from InStat.
The percentage of long forward passes out of total passes stretches from just 8.2% for Paris St-Germain keeper Keylor Navas, up to 83.6% for Paksi FC’s Gergő Rácz.
Only goalkeepers who played at least 1’000 domestic league minutes (injury time included) were taken into consideration.
In absolute terms, the greatest value of long passes was recorded by Bochum’s Manuel Riemann (27.5 per match on average), while Derby County’s Ryan Allsop made the most passes per game (50.0), ahead of Hamburger SV’s Daniel Heuer Fernandes (48.4).
On a league level, the percentage of goalkeepers’ long forward passes stretches from only 35.7% in the Turkish Süper Lig, up to 58.4% in the Scottish Premiership.
High figures were also recorded in the Argentinean Liga Profesional (47.5%) and the English Championship (49.0%).
More technical data from InStat is exclusively available in the CIES Football Observatory Performance Stats tool https://www.football-observatory.com/IMG/sites/b5wp/2021/wp381/en/
Much has been made of Pope’s kicking, with Jordan Pickford England’s number one largely because of his ability with his feet, on top of his all-round game, and displays for the Three Lions at major tournaments.
In March, when Pope was recalled to the squad, England boss Gareth Southgate outlined that no one was seriously challenging the Everton keeper, saying: "I think you want that competition, there are areas for them all to improve, and the idea is if we are going to be a really top team, they have to be outstanding at keeping the ball out of the net – number one, but also we want goalkeepers that can use the ball well and progress the game.
"Under the biggest pressure moments, you want a goalkeeper that can play out from the back well, and then how are they going to handle pressure, because everybody would have a view on Jordan Pickford, but what you can’t dispute about Jordan is he’s dealt with the pressure of being England number one extremely well.
"A lot of goalkeepers over the years haven’t been able to handle that, and he’s fulfilled that in the biggest tournaments, in the biggest moments, so the others have still got to chase him, and it’s important we acknowledge that fact.”
If Pope wants to take the jersey off Pickford, that is an area where he will have to continue to evolve and improve.