I would say the Newcastle goalkeeper situation was one of the least concerns for United fans as the season ended.
Whilst Matz Sels is pretty much universally seen as having no future at St James Park, compared to other positions I would say supporters are pretty relaxed with the other options available.
Karl Darlow had played to a pretty consistent high level for most of the Championship campaign, then Rob Elliot came back for the final three matches as United secured both promotion and the title, with teh Irish international looking none the worse for his injury.
When you add to the mix Tim Krul returning to Newcastle after getting back to full fitness and regular football in Holland, I think most of us wouldn’t be upset with some combination of two of these three being first and second choice on this return to the Premier League.
With so many other positions in the squad needing to be strengthened, the majority feeling I believe is that there is no mad need to introduce any new Newcastle goalkeeper to the mix.
However, that is what we all thought a year ago and then Rafa Benitez surprised us by bringing in Matz Sels over the top of the rest of them and making him instant number one.
Since the season ended, there have been constant reports/claims that the Newcastle boss now intends to do the same for this upcoming Premier League challenge.
Events and media coverage over the weekend have hardly clarified matters.
Pepe Reina is still widely reported to be a target for Rafa Benitez as his situation at Napoli is in the balance, with the keeper refusing to sign a contract extension. Manchester City’s Willy Caballero is also still touted as someone Newcastle are interested in, whilst West Ham’s Adrian was a new name added, supposedly seen by Rafa as another potential candidate to be the experienced Newcastle goalkeeper which the United boss is allegedly looking for.
Matz Sels has already been linked with what looks a definite move back to the continent, whether on loan or a permanent deal.
However, this weekend saw Tim Krul linked with a move to Anderlecht with Karl Darlow also allegedly put up for sale and a number of potential destinations suggested by the media.
The issue is further clouded by the fact that we still haven’t been told what the situation is with Rob Elliot.
It is two weeks ago since Martin O’Neill said this on 30 May 2017:
“Robbie Elliot played the last couple of games for Newcastle but is still feeling the injury.
“We will assess that during the next couple of days, so we will just have the two goalkeepers coming with us.”
The Newcastle keeper didn’t travel for the Mexico friendly in New Jersey but no update on his condition from either the Irish or Newcastle end of things.
What we do know is that Elliot was missing from the squad when Republic of Ireland played Uruguay in a friendly, then for the vital World Cup qualifier against Austria on Sunday, he was again nowhere to be seen.
Needless to say, any ongoing injury hangover issues from the injury that kept him out of first team action for over a year, would be a major complication.
In happier news, 20 year old Freddie Woodman yesterday picked up a World Cup winning medal in the U20s finals in South Korea, a stunning penalty save helping to secure a 1-0 final win over Venezuela and he picked up the Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper in the tournament.
This led to (slightly crazy in my opinion) calls from some Newcastle fans that despite his age, Woodman should be considered to be number one next season, rather than another loan.
Cutting through the confusion, my opinion is that Newcastle will definitely have a new number one keeper next season, somebody who is older and has past experience in the Premier League.
I think Freddie Woodman will definitely go out on loan again but hopefully at a higher level than the Scottish Premier, maybe the English second tier instead.
I also believe that Tim Krul and Matz Sels will be at other clubs next season, with Newcastle trying to sell them but maybe in Sels’ case having to agree a loan if all else fails.
Meanwhile, I do think Rafa Benitez sees Rob Elliot as his number two next season and Karl Darlow’s future may well depend on Elliot’s injury situation AND the fact that while the Irish international certainly looks happy enough to be a number two, would Darlow settle for that if offered.
After all that I feel a bit knackered and that is just Newcastle’s goalkeeper situation to sort out, never mind what Rafa has to deal with elsewhere.
I feel another very busy summer ahead in the transfer market.
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