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Newcastle United snapped up goalkeeper Matz Sels for a reported fee of £4.5 million (5.4 million euros) from Belgian side Gent on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old, voted goalkeeper of the year last season in Belgium, signed a five-year contract and becomes Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez’s first summer signing, as the Spaniard looks to freshen up his squad after relegation from the Premier League.

“I am really pleased to welcome Matz to the club,” Benitez said. “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 joined Gent from Lierse in January 2014 and made 106 appearances in all competitions for the club.



He was in the Belgium squad ahead of their Euro 2016 qualifiers with Andorra and Israel last October but failed to make the squad for the finals in France.

“I’m very pleased and I’m very happy to be here. In Belgium, Newcastle is a really big club, and that’s why I chose Newcastle,” the stopper said.

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