In an in-depth interview for the club’s official programme, Florian Lejeune has admitted that Rafa Benitez assured him that he could reach his ambitions with the club – including his goal to earn a France call-up – with the Frenchman feeling he is now in the ‘very best place’ to do just that at NUFC – a club he feels ‘very proud’ to play for.
A deal for Lejeune ended up being quite a long-winded affair over the summer, but Rafa finally got his man, signing the 6ft 3′ centre-back for £8.7m from La Liga side Eibar.
Speaking for the club’s official programme, Lejeune was asked if a call-up to the France squad was in his plans, admitting that this was a dream of his that was discussed with Benitez when he had to decide on a potential move to Tyneside:
“Of course it is in the back of my mind, even if I have never played for them yet,”
“My progress is good, and I am here at a big club in Newcastle with a great manager who also asked me what my ambitions were and posed the same question. I told him I’d love to play for France.
Lejeune then went on to say how he must continue putting in good performances and retaining his place in the NUFC team if he wants to achieve that, believing he is now in the perfect place to match his ambitions at Newcastle United:
“And so if I want to do that, I need to do better things in training and in games – I need to do well for my club. But for me, at present, the most important thing is to start for Newcastle and to put in good performances for the team.
“I’m always learning and will certainly continue to do so. Now I can say I am playing at a level where I can be very proud, and if I really want to kick on and go further, I am in the very best place to do that.”
This second part in particular should be music to the ears of us NUFC fans.
For years we’ve seen ourselves be a stepping stone, with the likes of Moussa Sissoko constantly suggesting that he could and should go on to bigger and better things after NUFC, so it’s refreshing to hear Lejeune say how proud and happy he is to be playing for our club.
He looks a very good player too. Hopefully he can keep on developing and who knows, maybe a call-up to the French national squad will arrive one day!