Mark Flekken’s first season in the Premier League with Brentford has been a mixed one.
The Dutch international, in his debut season at the Bees, has often looked unconvincing and prone to errors.
He has shown his abilities as a sweeper and shot-stopper on some occasions, with impressive saves.
We take a look at Flekken’s first season in England’s Premier League ahead of Oranje’s Euro 2024 qualifying match with Republic of Ireland.
Filling big shoes
Flekken had the difficult task of replacing David Raya, who left Brentford to join Arsenal in the summer.
The importance of Raya for Thomas Frank meant that finding the perfect replacement was crucial — the Bees new No1 has been identified following an impressive stint at Freiburg.
Six-caps international Raya has assumed Raya’s previous responsibilities and contributed to the build-up of his team.
He has mostly done well. Flekken is ranked second in the Premier League for attempts to pass (447) with a 75.84% accuracy.
Flekken completed less passes into the last third of the field than Raya — 1,81 per 90 minutes vs 3,11 per 90 minutes — but this is due to the West Londoners’ more direct style of play.
Raya’s long pass rate was 25.63 per 90, while Flekken only attempted 17.81.
Brentford’s brand new goalkeeper concedes more than Raya did last year, with 1.43 goals per 90 minutes compared to 1.21 in the previous season.
The Dutchman’s percentage of saves is down to 66.67%, compared with 77.39% for Arsenal’s former goalkeeper last season.
There is always room for improvement
Flekken, as an all-around goalkeeper is a significant downgrade from Raya.
Brentford could have sold the former for PS27million at the end his first loan to Arsenal and then signed his replacement at PS11m.
His performance has been solid despite some errors.
Last weekend, despite the 3-0 loss to Liverpool, he made several excellent saves that kept the score down.
Flekken hopes to keep more clean sheets over the next few weeks. He has only kept three of them in his last 11 games.
Brentford manager Frank stated last month: “I believe he (Flekken) has done well. Raya’s an excellent goalkeeper. We know this. There’s a good reason that he is the No. 1 at Arsenal. Mark is also a good goalkeeper.
He is Holland’s No1 and has played in the two last games. “I think that he has been unlucky for a variety of reasons to have not kept a clean sheet.”
Flekken, at 30, is no longer a child but has still plenty of time for him to develop.
In his 20s, he played in Germany’s third division and became a Freiburg regular only in 2021-22.
Once he has settled into his new home at Brentford, the 6-feet-4-inch stopper should have more to offer.
After only making his Netherlands debut in the past year, he now hopes to make a mark on an international level.
If the Netherlands wins tonight’s match against Republic of Ireland, they will be assured of their place at Euro 2024.