The Newcastle United goalkeeping question as speculation surrounding Manchester United’s Dean Henderson offers glimpse into the future

Dean Henderson has been heavily-linked with a move to Newcastle United this summer, but with Martin Dubravka still proving his worth - what would Henderson actually bring to the Magpies?

Dubravka joined Newcastle on a permanent basis four years ago this week having impressed greatly during his loan spell from Sparta Prague.

Ever since his memorable debut against Manchester United, Dubravka has been Newcastle’s No.1 and has put in sterling displays on a regular basis, earning Newcastle’s 2019/20 Player of the Season after a stellar season in-goal.

Even this year after injury problems hampered his start to the campaign, the Slovakian has kept eight clean sheets, picked up a nomination for ‘Save of the Season’ and has been an important member of a much improved Newcastle defence.

Manchester United's Dean Henderson has been heavily-linked with a move to Newcastle this summer (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

So why is there so much talk about the Magpies bringing in a replacement for Dubravka?

Dubravka remains as one of the Premier League’s top shot-stopping ‘keepers with very similar stats, according to scouting platform FBRef, to Burnley’s Nick Pope. Jordan Pickford, who many regard had a strong end to the campaign, remains some way off the levels set by Dubravka.

All of these stats will not come as a surprise to Newcastle fans who have become accustomed to watching Dubravka single-handedly keep Newcastle in games throughout his time on Tyneside.

However, what always remains a slight-criticism of the 33-year-old is his distribution.

Advertisement

Hide Ad
Martin Dubravka has been very good for Newcastle United since joining in 2018, but is his time as No.1 at St James's Park coming to an end? (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The standards of what is expected from goalkeepers with the ball at their feet have dramatically increased recently with players like Alisson and Ederson taking this to complete new levels.

Goalkeepers are no longer solely relied upon to keep the ball out of the net at one end, they’re also expected to start attacks to help put the ball in the opposition’s net.

Whether that is with long, pin-point kicks or by remaining calm and distributing it to defenders in-front of them, goalkeepers have to do it all in the modern game.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

And that’s the crux of where the speculation surrounding Dubravka’s future emerges.

Dan Burn and Fabian Schar are both very good on the ball and with Eddie Howe preferring his teams to build from the back, it’s obvious that this is the direction Newcastle will go in the future - could Henderson be the man to help take Newcastle into this new future?

His lack of game time at Old Trafford means it is hard to compare Dubravka and Henderson like-for-like this season, however, cast your minds back a few years and there were huge calls for the 25-year-old to become an England and Manchester United regular, that kind of hype doesn’t just disappear.

Henderson excelled at Sheffield United under Chris Wilder who, despite it falling apart for them a season later, were superb in their first campaign back in the top-flight.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

Only three teams conceded less than the Blades that year - Newcastle conceded 19 goals more for reference - and Henderson was a major reason for this.

The Blades were praised for the way they approached games under Wilder and at just 25, there is also plenty of time for Henderson to develop as a ‘keeper and adapt to the ways Howe wants his defensive unit to play.

Whichever man is in goal next season, it’s a position of real strength for Howe to build on.