PSV presents Benitez on social media as ‘Our new 1.91 monster on goal’. Technical director John de Jong is delighted with the arrival of the experienced 29-year-old goalie. “Walter is a very experienced keeper who has proven himself at a high level and for a long time. He has played almost two hundred games for Nice and was regularly captain. Our scouting saw him play in Argentina at a young age and continued to follow him when he left for Europe. Because we knew that his contract expired after this season, we have invested a lot of time and energy in his arrival in recent months. When it was clear that he was open to a transfer to PSV, we immediately went ahead with it.”
The 1.91m tall Benitez has had a strong season at OGC Nice and kept 14 clean sheets, the most of all goalkeepers in the French Ligue 1. The goalie had previously been in negotiations with his French employer about a contract extension, but both parties could not agree.
Rest on goalkeeper front
PSV hopes to finally get some peace on the keeper’s front by attracting a goalkeeper like Benitez. Keepers have come and gone in recent years. The rumblings started when then PSV coach Mark van Bommel began to doubt goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet in his second season, when he had a lesser phase. The goalkeeper, who had defended the PSV goal for more than six seasons and had become champion three times, eventually had to give way to Lars Unnerstall, after which Zoet took the leave to FC Utrecht. Unnerstall remained under the bar when Van Bommel lost his job and Ernest Faber took over in the 2019/2020 season, which was eventually discontinued due to corona.
Because the new PSV coach Roger Schmidt wanted a goalkeeper under the bar who was strong in playing soccer, goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo was hired from RB Leipzig with effect from the 2020/2021 season. The Swiss goalie could not really convince, after which PSV took over the young, talented goalkeeper Joël Drommel from FC Twente for 3.5 million euros. But Drommel also turned out not to be the undisputed goalkeeper PSV was looking for. The goalie maintained his confidence for a long time despite the necessary mistakes, but eventually succumbed to the pressure, after which Mvogo took over his place under the bar for the final phase of the season.
Van Nistelrooy wants to strengthen his selection in several positions.
“When screening the selection, we came up with two priorities: a goalkeeper and a number 9, a striker. If you bet high on that position, names will come up that are not strange to you either. Sometimes someone is free, like Benítez, sometimes not. Hopefully we can switch over in the coming weeks.” Luuk de Jong is one of the options for the striker position.
Some PSV players are in the interest of other clubs, including Cody Gakpo. “I would prefer to get clarity as soon as possible,” says Van Nistelrooy. “But you also know that you are bound by a transfer window. He knows what he wants. And whether he wants to make that choice in advance or not, that’s up to the player.”
Midfielder Ibrahim Sangaré is also linked to a foreign adventure. “I have spoken to him about how I see his role. That’s what it was all about. Sangaré really wants to stay. But we know how the transfer market works. If something comes, you also know what time it is,” says Van Nistelrooy.