Rafa Benitez: Why I've signed Matz Sels

Matz Sels

Matz Sels

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Rafa Benitez has revealed the signing of Belgian goalkeeper Matz Sels was to ensure his side make a strong start to the Championship.

The club confirmed today that the 24-year-old has put pen to paper on a five-year deal at St. James's Park.

He brings European experience with him to St. James' Park, having featured in the Champions League for Gent last season, and he arrives on Tyneside having kept 18 clean sheets during his final campaign at the Ghelamco Arena.

And with Rob Elliot and Tim Krul both still on the sidelines with knee injuries, Benitez wanted as much competition for the No 1 jersey as possible when the new season gets underway, with Sels set to challenge Karl Darlow for a starting role against Fulham on August 5.

Benitez said: "I am really pleased to welcome Matz to the club. He's a fantastic goalkeeper and many top clubs have been interested in signing him.

"Obviously we have injuries to Tim Krul and Rob Elliot which could be difficult for us in the first part of the season, so it was important to strengthen in this area to be sure we can make a strong start in the Championship."

Sels added: "I'm very pleased - I'm very happy to be here. In Belgium, Newcastle is a really big club, and that's why I chose Newcastle.

"As soon as Newcastle showed their interest in me, and I spoke to the coach, Rafa Benitez, it was an easy decision to make."