With Florian Lejeune not expected to return until the early stages of 2019, Rafa Benitez has admitted that his Newcastle side must ‘change their style’ in his absence – with the ball playing centre-back deemed to be a ‘very important player for us’ by the gaffer.
Despite a few early-season injuries, Lejeune didn’t take too long to adapt to life in England, with him forming a superb partnership with Jamaal Lascelles, which promised to only get better in his second season this year.
As we all know, the Frenchman suffered an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury over pre-season – a devastating blow which forced Benitez to bring in not one, but two centre-backs over the summer after Chancel Mbemba’s exit.
Fernandez was signed on deadline day from Swansea and already looks the part, but ball-playing Swiss international Fabian Schar will ‘take time to adapt’ according to Benitez, who states here that we will now ‘change our style’ of play without the big Frenchman:
“Florian has been a big miss for us in terms of what he means for us as a crucial member of the team. The style of football he brings and helps us to adapt to is something we have lost. Now we need to see how we can cope without him.
“He was passing the ball and giving confidence to the team and all the players around. He became a very important player for us.
“Federico is an important signing, Schar will take a little time to adapt, but we need to see what they can give us now Florian is out for a while. We have to change our style without him.”
Fernandez seems tidy on the ball from the little we’ve seen of him so far, however Lejeune did much more than play simple 10 yard passes into the midfield, with him often pinging cross-field passes or ball over the top to set up attack in our final third.
He brought a sense of calm to the defence and looked a class act.
I think we’re in safe hands with Fernandez, but let’s hope he’s back as soon as possible after a full recovery.
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