After joining Newcastle United in summer 2016, fair to say that it didn’t quite work out for Matz Sels.
His first signing as manager, Rafa Benitez brought in the Belgian keeper with promises that he would be his number one keeper.
Sure enough, despite Karl Darlow impressing under Rafa at the end of the relegation season and Rob Elliot & Tim Krul recovering from injury, Matz Sels started the Championship season as first choice.
Never looking totally convincing, Sels played the first nine matches but seemed especially suspect on crosses, losing his place after conceding a last-minute equaliser at Aston Villa.
He never started another league game and once Rob Elliot came back fully fit, Matz Sels didn’t even get on the bench for the final three months of the season.
He also made another five starts in the cups for Newcastle, conceding three at League Two Oxford as Newcastle crashed out of the FA Cup, as well as making a shocking mistake in the quarter final of the League Cup at Hull just after Newcastle had scored.
Quick to leave Newcastle on loan this summer, Matz Sels says he could have stayed an competed at Newcastle with Darlow and Elliot, but thought his chances of playing were better at Anderlecht.
He became the highest paid player ever to appear in the Belgian league but has once again struggled to play regularly.
Sels has started in 10 of Anderlecht’s 17 league matches and also shared the goalkeeping duties in the Champions League and domestic cups.
The goalkeeper insists that he still made the right decision and that indeed his national manager Roberto Martinez told him he had to get games, if he wanted to be considered for Russia next summer.
The former Everton boss telling Matz Sels that he couldn’t see him getting games at Newcastle.
Belgium have got a really strong squad and that applies to goalkeepers as well as elsewhere, Chelsea’s Courtois and Liverpool’s Mignolet the top two choices but Sels having been a regular in third spot the last couple of years.
Anderlecht play Celtic tonight in the final Champions League group match with the pair fighting it out for third and fourth place in the group, Matz Sels once again hoping to get a game to strengthen his chances next summer.
As to what Newcastle will do with him is another matter, as Anderlecht couldn’t afford to take him back permanently on his Newcastle level wages, even if they wanted to.
Like Achraf Lazaar and a number of other players, Rafa Benitez will be desperate to unload the returning Matz Sels.
Matz Sels speaking to Belgian weekly publication Humo:
“I played fifteen matches at Newcastle – that’s not much.
“I could have stayed and competed but I estimated my chances of playing at Anderlecht were higher.
“For the time being I am not worried, there will be enough matches,,,but it is true that I wanted to keep my World Cup opportunities cool by coming here.
“That was what Roberto Martinez (Manager of Belgium) told me: that I definitely had to play, and that he did not see that happening at Newcastle.
“Now, even if I play at Anderlecht, it does not give me the certainty that I will be there.
“But by staying with Newcastle I certainly did not stand a chance. “