Florian Lejeune is on the verge of completing his transfer from Spanish La Liga outfit Eibar to Newcastle United, after arriving in Tyneside to complete a medical ahead of an £8.7 million move.
Lejeune was playing in the fourth division of French football with Agde in 2009. He signed his first professional contract with French Ligue 2 side Istres, after impressing in two friendlies during his trial.
He made 44 appearances during two seasons at the club and was heralded as one of the best players in the division. The Frenchman attracted the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal.
Likened to former French international Laurent Blanc, his positive performances earned him a surprise call-up into France’s under-20 squad. Eventually, Lejeune left Istres for Villarreal on a four-year contract in July 2011.
The 26-year-old failed to cement a regular starting place in Villarreal’s senior team and was demoted to their reserve team. He returned to France when he joined Ligue 2 outfit Brest on a two-year loan deal.
He remained in France for another two years with another Ligue 1 rival Girona. He made 40 appearances and scored five goals during his first season, which encouraged Manchester City to acquire his services.
However, he was immediately sent back out on-loan to Girona and joined Eibar at the end of the campaign. Last season, Lejeune made 34 appearances and scored one goal in the Spanish La Liga.
What to Expect from Florian Lejeune
Florian Lejeune is unlikely to walk into Newcastle United’s starting line-up at the beginning of their returning season in the Premier League. Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark formed an unshakable partnership in the heart of the magpies’ defence in their Championship winning campaign.
He’s failed to make an impact at two of the high-profile teams he’s signed for previously in his career. The Frenchman accumulated only five appearances at Villarreal and was sent back out on-loan to Girona during his sole season at Manchester City.
However, Newcastle United were reportedly experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation towards the end of last season. It’ll be incredibly interesting to see whether they continue to implement this plan during pre-season.
Grant Hanley and Chancel Mbemba will also be contesting for a place in the starting line-up. Benitez has always been renowned for keeping players on their toes by increasing competition in each position and this may be a physiological test for his two main central defenders.
Lejeune is a simplistic and composed central defender, who has a tendency of clearing the danger immediately. Last season, the 26-year-old averaged 5.6 clearances and 5.11 long balls per game.
He’s composed due to his reluctance to recklessly dive into challenges and he liking for dribbling the ball from deep positions. Lejeune is also a towering opponent in aerial duals due to the utilization of his height at 6 ft 3”.
3 Things to Know About Florian Lejeune
• Lejeune was still playing amateur football in the French fourth division in 2009 at 18-years-old.
• Newcastle United will have beaten Arsenal to the Frenchman’s signature if the transfer is completed.
• He’s also played as a defensive midfielder during stages of his career.