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Done Deal: Rafael Benitez Makes His First Newcastle Signing

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 14: Rafael Benitez manager of Newcastle United looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Leicester City and Newcastle United at The King Power Stadium on March 14, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Rafa Benitez has confirmed his first signing since taking the Newcastle job, with Gent goalkeeper Matz Sels joining the Championship club for £4.5million.

The Belgium under 21 international has signed a five-year contract with the Saint James’ Park side.

Newcastle United new boy Matz Sels is believed to have overlooked interest from Southampton and Middlesbrough to sign for Rafa Benitez.

GENT, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 16:  Goalkeeper, Matz Sels of Gent saves a penalty in the final minutes from Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between KAA Gent and Olympique Lyonnais held at Ghelamco Arena on September 16, 2015 in Gent, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Speaking to the club website, he detailed his excitement at the move.

“I talked with Rafa Benitez, and he gave me the impression that we wanted to go up immediately again. It gave me the feeling that I should sign for Newcastle, and it’s a big club. A few years ago they played in Belgium in the Europa League, so that means that you’re a good club.

“It’s a challenge, but if you want to improve, you have to make steps. This, for me, is the perfect step, to improve and to be a better player.”

Magpies manager Benitez added: “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.”

Sels is highly regarded in Belgian football, having kept a total of 18 clean sheets in his 53 appearances for Gent last season, as well as being capped by his country at every level from under-17 to under-21.

The Belgian custodian is expected to be Newcastle’s number one next season, which would spell the end of Tim Krul’s decade-long Newcastle career.

The Dutchman has seen off competition in the form of Shay Given, Fraser Forster and Steve Harper in the last decade to become Newcastle number one, but with the arrival of Sels and only one year left on his contract, Krul is expected to depart this summer.

Krul may join up with fellow countryman Ronald Koeman at Everton, with the new Everton manager seeking a goalkeeper, with Joel Robles Everton’s only recognised stopper following Tim Howard’s decision to join Colorado Rapids.

Meanwhile Newcastle are expected to make further progress in the transfer market in the coming weeks as they look to compile their squad in good time for the new Sky Bet Championship season.

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Author: The PA Team

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