Florian Lejeune admits he saw his future away from St James’ Park this summer – but is refusing to think too much about next season after a strong start to life in Spain.
The centre-back completed a loan move to Alaves a few months ago and has impressed in La Liga so far, helping keep Lionel Messi quiet on Saturday night in a 1-1 draw against Barcelona.
Speaking to The Chronicle, here’s what he’s had to say about the summer move, his lack of game time under Steve Bruce and what the NUFC boss told him as he left on loan:
“I had done a few weeks of pre-season with Newcastle but I saw my future away from the club.
“It was a bit complicated and I didn’t play.
To only play one game out of 10…I needed some continuity.
“My goal when playing football is to be happy. That’s why I came here and I am happy.”
“I’m not thinking about next season,”
“Steve Bruce told me that he was going to keep an eye on me but we will see.
“So far, no one has told me anything but I’m not worried about that.
“I’m only focused on Alaves, winning games and having a good season.
“That’s very important for the team and for me.”
When fit he is a classy player, so hopefully Steve Bruce sees that this season and brings him back into the fold for 2021/22.
Lejeune then spoke about fellow Frenchman Allan Saint-Maximin, boldly claiming that the winger is “one of the best players in the Premier League”.
Here’s what he had to say about his close relationship with ASM, praising his ability on the pitch and his role as a “phenomenal father” to his three young kids:
“He’s a very good friend of mine. We talk a lot.
“He is a very good, funny person with an incredible talent and has a phenomenal future ahead of him.
“I think he’s doing quite well now. Last year, he had a few injuries that caused him some problems but now everyone can see what he can do.
“He has started this season well and has signed a new contract with Newcastle, and that is a sign.
“For me, he is one of the best in the Premier League.
“He can play one v one, he is fast and he is technically very good. Physically, he is adapting to the Premier League and he is hurting teams.
“On a personal level, I have seen him with his girls and his boy, and he is a phenomenal father.”
For me, a fit Lejeune is one of the best centre-backs at the club, with him barely putting a foot wrong under Rafa Benitez and immediately shoring up Alaves’ defence following his loan move to Spain.
Hopefully he can stay fit, continue to impress in La Liga and convince Steve Bruce to give him the chance he deserves next summer!