We never did fully understand why Rafa Benitez wanted a new goalkeeper last summer, and the boss even brought in a new goalkeeper in his first summer on Tyneside.
Rafa brought in Belgium goalkeeper Matz Sels, but that didn’t work out too well, and currently, Matz is on loan at Anderlecht and unlikely to come back to Newcastle in the summer.
Rafa has gone after his former goalkeeper Pepe Reina from Napoli and his first choice last summer was Manchester City free agent Willy Caballero, but Willy preferred to be the second choice at Chelsea.
But he has played well when he gets a chance at Chelsea and would have been a good goalkeeper for Newcastle.
Rafa brought in 29-year-old Martin Dubravka on the very last day of last month’s transfer window, and he had been watched by Newcastle’s recruitment team led by Steve Nickson.
Martin Dubravka – on his debut against Manchester United
The Slovakian International looks to be an excellent goalkeeper who is good with his feet and seems commanding in the box.
Here’s some of what Martin had to say in the Guardian recently and talked about how he already loves Newcastle and how Rafa wants him to play:
“This has completely changed my life. Suddenly there are new possibilities. Everyone around this city has the feeling for football.”
“I hope I’ll stay. It’s amazing here. Everybody in Slovakia knows about Newcastle; it’s a big name in my country.”
“I know many people talk about the top six in England but, in Slovakia, Newcastle’s one of the most famous clubs.”
“Everyone wants to be a hero of a club like Newcastle but I have to take this step by step. If you think things are going to go well, then they won’t.”
“He wants me to be loud and to talk to people, to help them and be confident on crosses,”
“I don’t want to look like I’m arrogant, just like I have enough confidence to help the guys. If I can see a striker three meters behind my defender, I’ll tell him.”
“We need to know we’re all equal on the pitch. I don’t care if someone’s been here for five years, we have to fight together for the points.”
Somehow we think Martin was born to play for Newcastle and let’s hope he continues to play (very) well for us through the end of the season and then the deal (for £3.5M) will be taken up by Rafa – and it looks like it’s a bargain buy.
And it seems that Steve Nickson and his recruitment team are doing an excellent job at Newcastle.
It’s also a critical job Rafa has given to Nickson.