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Steve Bruce less than convincing when explaining Martin Dubravka absence

3 months ago
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Martin Dubrava has been exceptional since arriving at St James Park on loan 18 months ago.

With Newcastle deep in relegation trouble, Rafa Benitez threw the Slovakian keeper in for his debut at home against Man Utd.

Ninety minutes later NUFC had won 1-0 and Martin Dubravka the key player with a man of the match performance.

He has never looked back, starting  50 Premier League games in a row and conceding only 59 goals. These past two seasons only two clubs outside of the top four have conceded less goals than Newcastle – remarkable for a team constantly fighting relegation.

Needless to say, it would be a disaster if Martin Dubravka left this summer.

It raised eyebrows when Dubravka was nowhere to be seen as Newcastle lost 4-0 to Wolves in the friendly, not even on the bench as Darlow and Woodman got a half each.

The following game though saw Martin Dubravka play the 90 minutes, as an assured performance brought another clean sheet and a 1-0 win over West Ham.

However, yesterday at Preston, once again no sign of the Slovakian number one, Woodman playing the full game as Newcastle were poor in a 2-1 defeat.

Asked about the number one keeper’s absence after the defeat, Steve Bruce said:

“We just wanted to get the goalkeeper (Freddie Woodman) to have some minutes too.

“Darlow will probably play at Hibs on Tuesday.

“I just felt it’s important that they rotate and have some game time, in case something happens to our number one.”

I had to laugh at Bruce’s choice of words, I think he mean to be reassuring and was attempting to reference the possibility of a freak injury but ‘in case something happens to our number one’ certainly had me thinking about an alternative set of circumstances that could happen with 11 days to go until the transfer window closes.

On Thursday, media reports (see below) claimed Martin Dubravka was a target for PSG now, with Buffon having left and Kevin Trapp likely to join Eintracht Frankfurt after a successful loan year there.

This followed previous claims this month that Premier League clubs were also interested and back in March, the keeper’s agents said top clubs home and abroad had registered an interest and they expected bids this summer AND Newcastle to reward their client with a far better contract after producing the goods.

It isn’t that I think he is certain to go but I did believe that even if Rafa had stayed, Dubravka would have had to be convinced there was some ambition at the club. Set to turn 31 in January he had played in minor leagues all his career before eventually getting this chance at the top level, so common sense tells you he will want to give it the best shot these next few years of maximising both wages and chances of winning something.

With Rafa going and then the ridiculous summer we have seen overall from Mike Ashley, if a serious attractive offer comes in, would you blame him for leaving?

I looked back last summer at the friendly schedule and the first two friendlies of five, saw Darlow, Woodman and Sels all get time on the pitch, though Martin Dubravka was on the bench both times.

The Slovakian then started the next two, playing 72 and 70 minutes against Porto and Braga, with number two Karl Darlow getting late minutes in each.

The final friendly actually saw Dubravka miss the Augsburg game with a knock, Rafa Benitez protecting him and playing Darlow for the 90 minutes.

A photo circulated on social media on Saturday night claiming to be Martin Dubravka at Charles de Gaulle airport….in Paris. However, plenty Newcastle fans were quick to say that this is one of the few airports you can fly to from Newcastle that then has all the various options of then catching a further flight to other destinations, plus many others were sure it wasn’t CDG airport anyway.

Regardless of social media claims, not having  your number one goalkeeper working with his defence as the season approaches and not even on the bench, is sure to be puzzling to many.

Plus we can all picture Mike Ashley’s face if a £20m+ offer comes in for a player who turns 31 in January, regardless of the position he plays in with relation to age.

Interesting that Steve Bruce was keen to tell us that Martin Dubravka was almost certainly not going to be involved on Tuesday in the second last friendly of pre-season as well.

These are strange times and with an owner such as Mike Ashley and back to having a patsy yes man Head Coach, I would say fears of losing key players such as Dubravka and Schar are at least equally as strong, as the hopes of signing the key quality players who should already have been bought in weeks ago.

The Mag – Thursday 25 July 2019:

Thursday morning has brought claims that PSG are now targeting Martin Dubravka.

This follows reports less than two weeks ago that the Newcastle keeper was now ‘unsettled’ after the departure of Rafa Benitez and the lack of ambition shown by Mike Ashley, with a disastrous transfer window so far.

Back in March, the Slovakian keeper’s agents gave a big interview (see below), where they said a number of big clubs in both the Premier League and on the continent had registered an interest and they were expecting bids to come in this summer. Irrespective of that, the agents stated that they expected  new vastly improved contract to be agreed by Newcastle, to reflect his excellent form since arriving at St James Park.

Neither have been forthcoming, no new contract nor any bids, at least none made public.

However, The Mail say this could be set to change very soon, with PSG now looking to take Martin Dubravka to Paris.

Last season, Gianluigi Buffon arrived on a free from Juventus and shared the first team goalkeeping duties with Alphonse Areola.

Buffon’s arrival had led to PSG number two Kevin Trapp going out on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt for the season.

Buffon is now back at Juventus and The Mail say that Eintracht Frankfurt are set to make Trapp a permanent signing, meaning they will need a keeper to compete with Areola.

The Mail report:

‘Martin Dubravka is wanted by Paris Saint-Germain this summer.

‘Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has emerged as a surprise target for Paris Saint-Germain.

The 30-year old is wanted by the French champions as cover because Kevin Trapp is discussing a move to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Dubravka has been hoping to secure a new contract at Newcastle but changes at the top have delayed talks.’

To lose Martin Dubravka would be a devastating blow and Newcastle fans will be hoping that the lack of ambition shown by Mike Ashley and failure to so far reward the keeper with a new contract, won’t help Dubravka to decide to want to move on if an offer indeed comes in.

The Mag – 15 March 2019:

An interesting interview with the agents representing Martin Dubravka.

Brothers David and Filip Zik are the duo who look after the Newcastle goalkeeper’s interests and negotiated the four year contract he signed last summer.

However, after his continuing success this season, they have approached Newcastle and are in talks to get an improved deal arranged quickly.

After conceding only 11 goals in 12 Premier League matches last season, Martin Dubravka has let in only another 38 goals in 30 PL games so far this season. Only a handful of clubs/goalkeepers have conceded less in that time.

Indicating that last summer’s deal was on a relatively low wage, the agents say a new deal needs to reflect the form shown by Dubravka this season.

The brothers also indicate that interest from other clubs means it is in Newcastle’s interests as well to bring Martin Dubravka more in line with what other top performing Premier League goalkeepers earn.

Obviously agents are always going to be looking to make more money for clients and themselves, with part of their job being to drive interest/talk about the players they represent. However, they are remarkably open in this interview about what the position is with the NUFC keeper and so when they talk about interest from elsewhere, it is more believable than your typical newspaper claims. In this interview with Ruik Football, they also go into detail about other players they represent as well.

As for Martin Dubravka, they say that Juventus are continuing to watch him and that a top Bundesliga club are definitely interested, though both they [agents] and Dubravka want to stay in the Premier League, with Newcastle United or possibly elsewhere.

It would be astonishing if top PL clubs weren’t looking at Dubravka, considering that goal record whilst playing for a team battling relegation during his 42 games so far. His bravery in coming for the goal also sets him apart, Dubravka having taken more high balls in the box than any other PL keeper this season.

The agents say they had had contact from clubs at the top of the Premier League who are competing for the title and in the European cup competitions: ‘If Martin is going to do everything like now, we believe that there may be a very interesting top club offer for Martin.’

It is very balanced what they say because they also point to the fact that whether a player such as Martin Dubravka moves or not, is also dependent on what happens at interested clubs, the agents pointing to what happens with current goalkeepers who are at these top PL clubs as affecting whether bids will come in this summer.

Whether anything happens remains to be seen but certainly I don’t think anybody should feel complacent because the agents are sorting a better contract with Newcastle.

Doing that doesn’t necessarily mean Dubravka won’t be leaving. As they indicate, it is only doing their job getting a better contract in place regardless. Something which would also of course give Newcastle more bargaining power if they did end up selling him, as if a new contract was now agreed, they could insist on adding a year or two to it, in return for higher wages.

Naturally, we would all hope that if Rafa Benitez stays, the likes of Martin Dubravka and others would do the same.

If Ashley forces the manager out, then not many fans would blame our better players if they then left as well. If there is no ambition then why would they stay?

In Dubravka’s case it is particularly relevant, after playing in lesser leagues in Denmark, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, he has made it to the big time relatively late.

Even though as a goalkeeper he could play a few more years at the top compared to outfield players, he will turn 31 in January and probably has these next five years or so as his chance to achieve whatever.

Here’s hoping that it is at Newcastle, with Rafa Benitez.

David and Filip Zik talking to Ruik Football:

‘Juventus are said to be interested in Martin Dubravka, Newcastle’s goalkeeper. Is this information true?’

“We can confirm that Martin is on the Juventus Scouting Department’s list of long-term player targets. However, we must mention that he is not only monitored Juventus, but there are also Premier League clubs.

“Our personal tip [for Dubravka] with my brother is that Martin stays in England. Our effort, but also Newcastle’s endeavor, is to negotiate a new contract at the end of this season, as Martin came to Newcastle as a virtually unknown Czech league player, but quickly deservedly became a major player of the entire team and already has an excellent reputation throughout the English league .

“So we are gradually starting to negotiate an improved contract, but of course, on the other hand, we record interest from a number of other clubs in the English league, where it is also bound by events at the goal post in the club, whether to replace their existing one, etc. Martin Dubravka is in agreement that our goal is to prove as much as possible in England.

“Even though Martin’s interest from one of the top German Bundesliga clubs has been eminent over time, Martin has told us that he does not feel that his career is going to move towards Germany, that he would like to continue in England, which is the cradle of football and in which goalkeepers already historically privileged.

“Recently, we have recorded interest from even the biggest clubs from the English league, ie clubs for the title and European Cups, and if Martin is going to do everything like now, we believe that there may be a very interesting top club offer for Martin.”

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