Is the lack of Newcastle United transfer activity something that should concern us?
As it stands, in six days time NUFC will begin pre-season training with the same squad that ended the Championship season, with the exception of Vurnon Anita, Yoan Gouffran, Sammy Ameobi and Matz Sels, whilst Florian Thauvin has also been sold for £10m.
No new players in, as yet, unless you count Christian Atsu, who has seen his loan deal made permanent for £6.2m, even though only starting 15 of 46 games in the Championship last season.
Florian Lejeune is a player (signing?) who is defining Newcastle’s transfer window at the moment, in the absence of players actually signing on so far.
At the start of the month, almost four weeks ago now, things looked quite promising.
On top of Atsu’s permanent capture, it looked as though deals for Tammy Abraham, Florian Lejeune and Willy Caballero (or Pepe Reina) looked very probable. A combination of potential signings that looked as though they could bring added quality to the Newcastle team/squad, for not a great deal of money in today’s market.
Caballero (or Reina) a very experienced keeper having played at the top level, Abraham showing a lot of promise as an 18/19 year old with Bristol City scoring 26 goals last season, whilst Florian Lejeune had reportedly impressed in La Liga and though a bit of an unknown quantity, if Rafa thinks he’s suited to the Premier League then good enough for us.
A month later and no sign of any experienced quality keeper, Abraham heading off to Swansea rather than Tyneside, whilst Florian Lejeune is still reported to be edging ever closer to signing for Newcastle.
It isn’t a disaster if any one or all of these players signs for Newcastle but the case of Florian Lejeune is one that has really confused supporters. In fact it has become a running joke for them on social media, how the local press repeatedly report that his arrival is getting closer.
Compared to most/all of the other players Newcastle are linked with, it does appear that Rafa Benitez/NUFC genuinely wants Florian Lejeune, media in both countries as well as club officials of (selling?) club Eibar back up the idea he is a wanted man. So the question remains, instead of getting ‘closer’ on a daily basis, why hasn’t the deal actually been signed off?
I think it is accepted as fact by the vast majority that the French defender has a buyout clause of just under £9m (10m euros) and Newcastle have been in contact with Eibar about the player.
You do have to worry about the rest of the transfer window if this transfer then can’t be put to bed quickly.
Newcastle fans will be hoping that alongside the likes of Atsu and Lejeune, Newcastle will be signing other players with higher profiles and a more substantial record of playing at the top level, whether Premier League, La Liga or wherever.
Looking below the surface of Florian Lejeune, yes he started 33 La Liga games last season and appears to have done well for Eibar in that campaign, but there isn’t very much else to go on.
He is 26 and had never previously played in the top tier of Spanish football, in fact his complete past history of playing in the top division of any country is eight starts for Brest in Ligue 1 five years ago (2012/13).
Otherwise, the rest of his entire playing history has been playing in the lower division of Spanish and French football, levels that are way below the standard of the Championship in England.
This is not to say that Florian Lejeune wouldn’t be able to succeed in the Premier League but he does have it all to prove.
Another angle on the transfer not getting finalised is that if the defender is somebody who looks like he could be a big asset, why would you mess around and not sign him up – potentially then letting another club to come in and make him a better offer?
From The Mag – 2 June 2017:
‘The Times report says that as well as Tammy Abraham expected to complete his loan move shortly, Rafa Benitez is also keen on signing Florian Lejeune.
The 26 year old Frenchman is another former Manchester City player, kind of.
Lejeune joined Manchester City in 2015 but was then immediately loaned back to Spanish second tier club Girona and didn’t make a single appearance for the Manchester club..
The French central defender can also play defensive midfield and has recently been linked with Arsenal and Tottenham after making a permanent move to La Liga side Eibar last summer, Lejeune helping them to a very credible 10th place in the league.
Florian Lejeune signed a four year deal for Eibar last summer but any transfer fee wouldn’t be prohibitive for Newcastle.
An uncompromising 6ft 3 centre-back, Lejeune picks up a few goals for a defender, scoring nine in the league over the course of the past three seasons. However, he also has a pretty bad disciplinary record, having managed to pick up 11 suspensions in the past four years.
Over the course of 2014/15 and 2015/16 he picked up a remarkable 30 bookings and two red cards in club football, last season though he moderated that a little and had just one sending off and seven yellows.
With the £6.2m signing of Christian Atsu, imminent loan of Tammy Abraham, plus potential deals for Lejeune and Caballero, Rafa Benitez appears to be clearly looking at a major overhaul of the squad. With all positions needing strengthening, it is likely we are going to see a combination of short-term deals with high wages for more experienced players, loan deals for players who at the moment Newcastle wouldn’t be able to attract/afford to buy, as well as the odd major transfer fee to be paid out as well.
In short, Newcastle are at last approaching a Premier League season with a policy of going for the players who are needed, whatever their age/background, rather than some daft rigid policy that involves ruling out most signings, limiting the club to just players of a certain age who may increase in value in the future.
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