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Newcastle target in-form Greek star with £53m release clause – Should Bruce splash the cash?

Benfica goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos catches the ball during the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal match against Eintracht Frankfurt in April last year.
Benfica goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos catches the ball during the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal match against Eintracht Frankfurt in April last year. (Getty Images)

Why Newcastle United should rope in Odysseas Vlachodimos

According to A Bola (h/t Daily Mail), Newcastle United are interested in Benfica goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos.

However, the Magpies have a small problem if they are to secure his services permanently. The Portuguese giants will only let go of their first-choice keeper if his £53million release clause is met.

Benfica goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos catches the ball during the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal match against Eintracht Frankfurt in April last year.
Benfica goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos catches the ball during the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal match against Eintracht Frankfurt in April last year. (Getty Images)

The Greek international has been exceptional between the sticks for Benfica this season. He has conceded just 14 goals and featuring in all their 24 league games so far. Vlachodimos also has kept 14 clean sheets this season, making him the best goalkeeper in the Portuguese league. Table-toppers Porto’s Augustin Marchesin is at second spot with 12 under his belt.

Vlachodimos was equally impressive for Benfica last season too, appearing in all their 34 league games and helping them finish as champions with 15 clean sheets to his name.

Having kept 14 clean sheets from fewer matches already, Vlachodimos seems to be emulating his performances from last season. With his on-field displays improving with time, Premier League side Newcastle have now shown an interest in him.

Odisseas Vlachodimos of Benfica grabs the ball next to Lyon's French forward Moussa Dembele during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between both the sides in October last year.
Odysseas Vlachodimos of Benfica grabs the ball next to Lyon’s French forward Moussa Dembele during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between both sides in October last year. (Getty Images)

Vlachodimos excellent future replacement for Dubravka

Steve Bruce’s Magpies have conceded just 41 goals in 29 league games because of the efforts of their first-choice goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Newcastle currently have the third-best defensive record among teams in the bottom-10 category, with only Crystal Palace (32) and Brighton and Hove Albion (40) having a better record than them.

Despite Newcastle managing to win just nine games, Dubravka’s impressive displays at the back have seen them not slipping any further in the league table. The Slovakian has kept nine clean sheets this term and has been impressive ever since landing at St. James’ Park.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce reacts angrily on the touchline. (Getty Images)
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce reacts angrily on the touchline. (Getty Images)

Last season, Dubravka featured in all 38 league games and kept 11 clean sheets, proving he was the right man to don the Magpies No.1 jersey. However, he turned 31 this January and is not getting any younger. Newcastle have two back-up keepers in Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot.

However, Darlow has made just five appearances altogether, while veteran Elliot is yet to feature this season. This indicates that the duo is clearly not in Bruce’s plans at the moment. That said, Vlachodimos could be an excellent future replacement for Dubravka. Moreover, the Greek custodian can also offer Dubravka a good run for his money, having proved his mettle already with Benfica.

Hence, making a move for Vlachodimos would only make Newcastle even stronger at the back and could help them climb the ladder in the coming days.

Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka celebrates after his side's victory in the Premier League.
Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka celebrates after his side’s victory in the Premier League. (Getty Images)

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Verdict

Dubravka has been Newcastle’s only reliable customer for quite some time and Vlachodimos’ arrival will ease the burden upon him. A proven performer at the highest level, there is no questioning the Benfica man’s talents. Moreover, he is only 26 and still has plenty of football left in him, meaning he could don the gloves for the Magpies in the near future if Dubravka wishes to depart.

Written by Siddharth

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