Newcastle United have today announced the £8.7m signing of Florian Lejeune from La Liga side Eibar. The French centre-back arrives after an impressive season in Spain, but several NUFC fans will know very little of the defender – here’s an insight into what we can expect from our latest arrival next season.
The 26-year-old helped La Liga minnows Eibar to a top half finish last season and has been praised by Sky Sports’ Spanish League expert Terry Gibson who believes the 6ft 3′ centre-back will be “tailor-made” for the Premier League:
“I think he’s tailor-made for the Premier League – he will fit in absolutely perfectly,”
“He’s good in the air and he’s physically strong. I think he’s a very solid player and for me, it won’t take him any time at all to adapt to the Premier League. For the money he’s going to cost (£8.7m), it’s a good move that just makes sense.”
“He’s solid at every thing he does. He’s got decent pace – you’ll never see him beaten for that – without being lightening quick. He’s not Franz Beckenbauer but he’s comfortable enough on the ball and playing out from the back as well. I just think he does everything right and it doesn’t surprise me that teams from the Premier League are looking at him.”
Florian Lejeune – 16/17 pic.twitter.com/U1C6Eqxi8K
— John (@jbxnufc) June 21, 2017
Gibson clearly rates Lejeune as a player, but he has also praised his character, explaining why his success at Eibar says everything you need to know about him as a person:
“Everywhere he’s been, he’s improved. He didn’t get much of a chance at Manchester City but he was excellent at Girona, another small club who were up against the odds. Then to be part of an Eibar side that exceeded expectations shows that he’s a certain type of person.”
“Eibar have to get by bringing in a certain type of player and Lejeune fits the bill. You have to be the right character – prepared to put everything in because you know you are battling against it playing for them. They are a triumph of good management and good players and Lejeune has been arguably one of their best.”
The fact the his former club Eibar posted “You have signed a great player and a better person” on Twitter moments after he signed for Newcastle says a lot and echoes the above from Terry Gibson.
Lejeune also boasts some impressive stats from his season in La Liga last year, coming out on top for most clearances, interceptions and aerial duels won – an impressive feat given he’s came out on top up against world class defenders like Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and Diego Godin:
191 – Florian Lejeune made 191 clearances in La Liga last season; the most of any defender in the competition. Magpie. pic.twitter.com/cd47MlhhJh
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 4, 2017
Of the 173 players to contest 50+ aerial duels in LaLiga last term, he had the best aerial success (76.2%)
— Ketch (@ketchell) June 23, 2017
Interceptions in #LaLiga last season…
— Ladbrokes (@Ladbrokes) July 4, 2017
Following his confirmation, Benitez stated today that Lejeune was “good with both feet” as well as being “big and good in the air” – here’s some clips of him in action against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid last season that we’ve put together:
Watched a full-match replay of Eibar vs Barcelona last season to get a gauge of incoming CB, Florian Lejeune. #NUFC
Here's him in action?? pic.twitter.com/m7AMjweWYe
— Black&WhiteBarmy (@BlackWhiteBarmy) June 20, 2017
Watched Lejeune closely in a replay of Eibar vs At. Madrid from last season.
— Black&WhiteBarmy (@BlackWhiteBarmy) June 21, 2017
“He is a typical No 5, an old English type who is fantastic in the air, has confidence, presence but is also very calming and commanding.
“For a player who is so good in the air and can read the game, he is also someone who can play, too. He is very comfortable with the ball at his feet.
“He has the make up and mentality to be a success in England. “If he managed to add goals to his game you would say he is not far off the perfect defender.
The stats, the footage and the comments from those who know a lot of him suggest Lejeune is going to be a terrific signing at Newcastle.
In a world where Michael Keane costs you £30m, Lejeune could turn out to be terrific business for just £8.7m.