Toon flop Matz Sels has been “arguably the best goalkeeper in Ligue 1 this season” according to French journalist Robin Barnier.
Bairner also notes that his impressive form for French side Strasbourg has seen him be rewarded with an improved contract by the club.
Sels – who completed a £3.5m move to Strasbourg last summer – played 12 times for the Magpies after singing for a reported £6.5m prior to our Championship season in 2016/17.
The former Gent star fell out of favour with the Newcastle fans quickly, however, making a vital error in our 1-1 draw with Aston Villa in September 2016, costing the team an important 2 points.
A poor run of form saw Benitez drop Sels for the more ready-made Karl Darlow, who didn’t need time to adapt to the English game.
The Belgian has spoken recently on his time at NUFC, admitting that things were difficult for him at the club.
Speaking about his spell at St James’ Park, Sels said:
“It wasn’t good for me, but I learned. Maybe I wasn’t ready – and not just mentally.”
Banishing Sels from the first-team was a ruthless and bold move from Benitez, but the club was in no situation to be taking risks when a return to the top flight was at stake.
The keeper actually made 5 clean sheets in his 12 appearances, including four in a row from 20th August to 13th September. Perhaps some of the criticism was harsh, but there can be no denying that he looked unconvincing during his brief stint at St James’ Park.
That said, he’s clearly impressing again after finding a new home in France and isn’t the first player to impress in Ligue 1 since leaving the club, with tuxedo wearing Florian Thauvin looking like a man reborn since returning to Marseille.