At the very end of the January Transfer Window, Newcastle had announced they had signed a Slovakian goalie by the name of Martin Dubravka on loan. It was no surprise that a goalie had been signed as that was one of the priorities on Rafa’s list, but Dubravka may have been an unfamiliar name. The 29-year-old had most recently played for the Czech club Sparta Prague, a very successful club in Central Europe and had only made 9 appearances for the Slovakian National Team. For most supporters, this man may have been a mystery.
Rafa Benitez did not give Dubravka his debut right away, either. The next match, against Crystal Palace, Karl Darlow would start with the Slovak on the bench. It was not until the next weekend, against second placed Manchester United, where our new keeper would get his debut. And what a debut it was!
Are there any other players on the squad that had a memorable debut? Well let’s take a look. Let me know if I missed any that stand out to you.
This one is fairly easy since it happened only two matches ago against Burnley. Kenedy’s debut started off with him taking a shot (with a slight deflection) square off the post. That would have been something special if it found its way in. Even with him being inches away from scoring, Kenedy still gave a lasting impression. His set pieces and corners were very dangerous and really showed what he can bring to the table each week. To top it off, one of his corners was converted in off the head of the Captain, Jamaal Lascelles, to give the Brazilian one assist in his debut.
Jonjo Shelvey’s Debut in the 2015-2016 Season
Shelvey’s debut came against West Ham in mid January of 2016. In a 2-1 victory, Shelvey was named Man of the Match. Also, his performance would help end a 5-game winless streak for the Toon. Although he did not have any goals or assists, he had a direct hand in both goals. Shelvey would connect on 53 passes out of 58 (roughly 91%) according to BBC’s passing matrix.
Ayoze Perez’s Debut in the 2014-2015 Season
In Perez’s first Premier League start he scored a goal helping the Toon win 2-1 away against Tottenham. This would spark a great run of form for the Spaniard as he would score in his next two games, including the lone goal to beat a Liverpool side 1-0, and the other against West Brom. We haven’t seen Perez return to this form as he has been quite inconsistent since.
Here’s his goal against West Brom:
Karl Darlow’s Debut in the 2015-2016 Season
Darlow is on this list for a different reason. In his debut, Karl Darlow was included in the lineup as a surprise because of a sudden illness of Rob Elliot. His debut would turn to a nightmare, at least in his eyes, as Darren Fletcher of West Brom would squeeze a header through the keeper’s hands. That would be the deciding goal and would further put Newcastle in relegation trouble in the 2015-2016 season.
Did I miss any? How about your favorite players that are no longer with the club? Let me know in the comments.