There hasn’t been a goalkeeping debut like that since Tim Krul put on a show in Palermo so many years ago. Martin Dúbravka was every thing Rafa Benitez had wanted in a goalie since last summer. Fortunately for us, there is a clause in Dúbravka’s loan agreement that could make the move permanent for just £4 million.
NUFC have a clause in the Dubravka deal to make it a permanent one at the end of the season. £4m is the price negotiated.— Mark Douglas (@MsiDouglas) February 11, 2018
Ultimately, Dúbravka’s debut on Sunday was just one game. There’s no telling what happens to him over the next few months, he could never return to that form again. Every professional goalkeeper out there will have days where they’re unbeatable, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a Premier League quality player. Fortunately, there are good signs as to why that won’t happen with Dúbravka.
Over the summer the two most frequently linked keepers to Newcastle were Pepe Reina and Willy Caballero. They have a lot of similarities besides both being bald. Both are experienced, vocal goalies who can organize a defense, both have a strong command of their area, and both are comfortable with the ball at their feet.
Those are three things Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow do not have. Over their few years at the club we’ve seen both have incredible performances - we know they’re both decent shot stoppers who will make a few gaffes - but most of the time will make the saves expected of them.
Against Manchester United Martin Dúbravka did all the things we’ve never seen Elliot or Darlow do. Within the first half we have already seen him look effortless with the ball at his feet, claim a cross at the penalty spot, and save a one-on-one. Just as importantly, he was constantly shouting and pointing at his backline to keep them in shape and organized.
Later on he was quick to come off his line to clean up loose balls, and of course made that incredible stoppage time save to give Newcastle three points. All these things add another dimension to our defense. Claiming dangerous crosses, cutting out through balls, and being comfortable when the defense drops the ball back to you takes immense pressure off a backline that has already had a decent season.
It doesn’t mean every match from now on will be like that, he’s a 29-year-old keeper with no higher experience than Denmark and the Czech Republic for a reason. But, he does everything Rafa wants in a keeper, and so far it looks like he does them pretty well.