New contract announced for Newcastle star could see unintended consequence of young talent leaving
The news that Martin Dubravka has put pen to paper on a new contract, committing himself to Newcastle United for another six years (relegation and potential release clauses notwithstanding) was welcomed by the majority of Newcastle fans, who have been impressed with his level of consistency since signing in January 2018.
Since that incredible debut against Manchester United, he has been an ever present in the Premier League, playing 59 games in a row and not giving the other keepers on the club’s books a look in.
He is unquestionably the best goalkeeper we have had since the days of Shay Given and his decision to commit the best years of his career to the club – though met by some fans with an understandable level of scepticism that this is just an exercise in pushing his transfer value up – is a positive story for a fan base desperate for the slimmest hint of good news.
The only potential negative I can see though, is the effect this could have on the developing career of Freddie Woodman – currently excelling in the Championship on loan at Swansea City.
Woodman joined us in 2014 and has made just four appearances for the first team in that period, as his path to the number one spot has been blocked by the likes of Matz Sels, Rob Elliot, Karl Darlow and now Martin Dubravka. He is now on to his fifth loan spell with spells at Hartlepool, Crawley Town, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen and now Swansea.
During that time Woodman has excelled at age group level for England, winning 56 caps and winning a European Championship, World Cup and Toulon tournament along the way. He is now 22 years of age and with a growing reputation he is unlikely to want to sit on the bench for the next three or four years while Dubravka continues to excel.
His situation is very similar to the one Fraser Forster found himself in, going back nearly a decade. With the likes of Shay Given, Steve Harper and Tim Krul ahead of him, Forster had successful loan spells with Norwich and Celtic before joining the Old Firm side on a permanent basis. He won a number of trophies and excelled in the Champions League, which earned him England recognition and a big money move back to the Premier League with Southampton.
With his contract due to expire in 2021 the most likely scenario is that Woodman will follow the example of Forster and leave permanently in the summer with a decent transfer fee attached.
The only reason I could see this scenario changing is if we do get relegated, in which case Dubravka will likely move on, leaving a gap for Woodman who will have a full season’s experience in the Championship under his belt by that point.
Otherwise I expect we’ll all be looking back ruefully in ten years’ time at one who got away.
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