Why Eibar Centre-Back Florian Lejeune Could Be Ideal For Newcastle
Newcastle United look set to continue their summer spending by signing Eibar centre-back, Florian Lejeune.
The former Manchester City defender has a release clause in his contract, thought to be £8.7million, which the Magpies have activated. The Frenchman will link up with Rafael Benitez and the rest of the Newcastle squad when they begin their training next month.
Newcastle have already spent some money to make their loan move for Christian Atsu a permanent one. Manager Rafael Benitez has also spoken personally to striker Tammy Abraham about a short term deal on Tyneside and is waiting to hear from the Chelsea forward.
Reportedly, Lejeune was also wanted by Arsenal and Tottenham, though Benitez has been able to nip in and nab the man from Istres. The 26-year-old has come on leaps and bounds over the last two years and is looking to break into the French squad before next year’s World Cup.
Lejeune had an excellent season in Spain, making 34 appearances in La Liga. The defender made 1.3 tackles per game, 2.1 interceptions, 0.6 blocks and impressively, 5.6 clearances. His pass completion rate of almost 75% is very good for a central defender and so he seems just the type of player Benitez likes – one who is comfortable on the ball.
Florian Lejeune has made 237 first team appearances for Istres, Villarreal, Brest, Girona and Eibar and has shown great improvement over the course of his career. It seems to be really happening for him now though and he has impressed against the likes of Ronaldo, Suarez, Neymar and Messi this year.
Holding his own against the very best attackers in the world has put Lejeune on the radar of some top clubs and it can be seen as quite a coup if Newcastle do get the deal finalised. None of us have a crystal ball of course, but the rate at which Lejeune is improving means it’s easy to envisage him playing for France in the World Cup next year and raising his transfer value.
If this does happen, we’ll look back on this transfer as being something of a bargain for the Toon and the move can even have the effect of improving young centre-backs Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles. Both did well last season but need to prove themselves in the Premier League, and another pre-season behind them with someone of the quality of Lejeune can only benefit them.