Matz Sels is finally on his way out of Newcastle United.
The 26 year old has no future on Tyneside and was given 45 minutes in the first pre-season friendly at St Patrick’s Athletic to presumably help remind clubs he was fit and available.
A long-running attempt by Anderlecht to sign the keeper permanently, eventually failed, Matz Sels forced to return to Tyneside for pre-season training.
However, news from both Belgium and France that a transfer is imminent.
In Belgium, HLN report that Sels is travelling to Strasbourg and has agreed a four year contract, with his medical set to happen today. The newspaper indicating that a transfer is sorted with Newcastle United.
Whilst in France, L’equipe also report the transfer fee agreed, saying Strasbourg will be paying Newcastle United £3.6m for their new goalkeeper.
Strasbourg narrowly avoided relegation last season when finishing 15th and Matz Sels could be set for a busy time. Last year only two Ligue 1 clubs conceded more than the 67 goals Strasbourg did.
The Mag – 3 July 2018:
It is now 22 months since Matz Sels started a league match for Newcastle United.
The now 26 year old goalkeeper was brought in as the new number one in summer 2016 but after only nine Championship starts was dropped, never to be seen again in an NUFC league game. He even lost his place on the bench in that promotion season, once Rob Elliot was back to full fitness.
Impressing for Anderlecht on loan last season, the Belgian club were keen to sign Matz Sels permanently.
However, there appears to be no softening when it comes to Mike Ashley’s expectations of transfer fees before unwanted players are allowed out of the door.
Sels saw a move to Anderlecht fail (see below) last month due to Newcastle’s/Ashley’s insistence on an extra £500,000 being paid. A move for Chancel Mbemba to Porto also having stalled due to the NUFC owner insisting on what appears to be an unrealistic valuation.
It is at least to Matz Sels’ credit that he is trying desperately to get a new club (unlike players such as Marveaux, Haidara, Obertan etc who refuse to move elsewhere for less money so they can get regular football and see their contracts out to the very end), having quickly agreed personal terms with Anderlecht, only to see the move break down because of the fee.
A return to Belgium or other similar lower league looks the only chance of a new club and recent days have seen claims of Turkish club Fenerbahce.
Monday night saw Matz Sels watching Belgium take on Japan in the World Cup last 16 game, the NUFC keeper was watching with other Belgian football fans on a giant screen in Antwerp town centre.
At half-time, Belgian broadcaster Sporza managed to grab a word with Sels at half-time.
He confirmed that as from Friday he would be back with the Newcastle United squad to begin pre-season training but when asked about his future after that, he declined to comment.
Rafa Benitez has any number of players he needs to move on, including the likes of Sels and Lazaar that he brought in. However, the vast majority were already at the club before he arrived, the likes of Aarons, Mbemba, Mitrovic, Colback and Saivet all set to move on if Benitez has his way.
The Mag – 21 June 2018:
Bad news for Rafa Benitez as Anderlecht have turned their backs on signing Matz Sels.
A move looked nailed on but then as time has dragged on, we ended up in a position a week ago (see below) where Belgian media reported that Newcastle had ‘laughed’ at Anderlecht’s opening offer.
Then when asked to come back with a better offer, the Belgian club’s second bid was claimed to have led to anger from the Newcastle side regarding having wasted their time, whilst HLN reported that Anderlecht’s Director of Football, Luc Devroe, had already made clear to them that this (£1.75m plus potential small additional bonus payments) would be the highest they would go.
Whilst the Matz Sels negotiations were ongoing, they Belgian club brought in Thomas Didillon from Metz, with the intention of him being number two to Matz Sels.
However, on Thursday, Luc Devroe has given an update on the situation, saying the ‘financial picture for Sels became too big’ and that new signing Didillon would now compete with Frank Boeckx who has been at Anderlecht for the past three years.
The season kicks off earlier in Belgium than other European countries and their first friendly is tomorrow (Friday 22 June), Anderlecht having made 10 signings already and Devroe saying that they simply couldn’t afford to offer more for Matz Sels.
“If more than ten new players have to be added, we can not spend too much on one player.
“The financial picture for the Sels transfer became too big, Boeckx and Didillon will compete for the spot under the bar.”
The Mag – 14 June 2018:
If there was one unwanted player that looked a certainty to be shifted out of Newcastle United, it was Matz Sels.
After a successful year at Anderlecht on loan, the keeper agreed personal terms on a five year permanent contract some weeks ago with the Belgium club, a price agreed between the clubs thought to be imminent.
However, reports from Belgium say that there is now zero trust between the two clubs.
Belgian newspaper HLN state that Newcastle United ‘laughed’ at Anderlecht’s opening bid of 2m euros (£1.75m) and that they invited them to make an improved offer.
When Anderlecht came back with an offer of 2m euros plus small bonus amounts if certain targets are met, HLN say that if anything this made things worse, the Newcastle United hierarchy said to be angry – as they felt their time had been totally wasted by the Belgian club.
Luc Devroe, Anderlecht’s Director of Football, has been in charge of negotiations and the newspaper report that he has stated Anderlecht won’t offer more than what they have already put on the table.
With little/zero trust between the two clubs there looks to be little prospect of a deal, though as always money/desperation talks.
Even if the transfer fee was less than £2m, if Anderlecht have gone anywhere near Sels’ Newcastle wages it will still be a significant amount for them, with no Champions League revenue this coming season.
Another worry now is that Anderlecht yesterday completed a deal for another keeper, Thomas Didillon arriving from Metz, He was originally supposed to be number two to Matz Sels but could find himself with an instant promotion, if Anderlecht want to gamble on him.
It is only eight days until they have their first friendly, so the clock is ticking.
The Mag – Tuesday 12 June 2018:
Whilst the Chancel Mbemba move to Anderlecht is reported to be dead in the water and the defender set to join Porto instead, Matz Sels is set to at last make his move permanent.
Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad says that talks took place on Monday between Anderlecht and Newcastle to finalise the deal, with the player having already agreed personal terms some weeks ago.
The report says that all sides in the negotiations are keen to get things agreed quickly now, with the move set to be announced this week.
The season starts a few weeks earlier in Belgium compared to most other European leagues and Anderlecht have already signed seven new players ahead of pre-season training.
Their first pre-season friendly is only 10 days away (22 June v RWDM) and the Belgian newspaper says Matz Sels wants to be back training with the Anderlecht squad on Monday (18 Jun), ahead of the friendly on the Friday.
They also report that whilst Matz Sels is to come in as number one, Anderlecht are also in talks to bring in Thomas Didillon from Metz, who will be number two to the soon to be former Newcastle keeper.
Maybe this is one deal that will be finalised a little quicker than would otherwise have been the case, if Matz Sels had made the final cut for Belgium’s World Cup squad.
Rafa Benitez can only be helped by the number of unwanted players he can manage to quickly move on in this window.