After some six weeks of negotiations, Florian Lejeune finally became a Newcastle United player.
Newcastle hadn’t wanted to meet his full £8.7m release price and then once they had bowed to that demand, Eibar refused to let NUFC pay by instalments. The deal went through without any clarification on that second point, as to who had backed down.
The signing was obviously welcomed by Newcastle fans, after two months of hundreds of names linked it was always going to be a relief to see the first new face arriving this summer.
However, with each passing day I am feeling a little bit more uneasy about our overall summer transfer activity. The hope obviously was that this Florian Lejeune deal would open the floodgates and we’d see two or three more quickly follow the Frenchman through the door.
Instead, we have seen day after day of quotes, interviews, background, to do with the Florian Lejeune signing. The club going way over the top on their website and social media, with the local media predictably lapping it up and simply repeating, hardly surprising after such a previously barren summer to cover.
The more stuff the club and the friendly media put out about Lejeune, it makes me feel we are less, not more, likely to bring in the other essential signings that have to happen this summer if Newcastle are not to be in a relegation fight.
Despite all of the stuff written about Lejeune, I have seen zero proper analysis of the player from the local media. All that 95% know still, is that the defender is French, has been signed from La Liga and was once a Manchester City player. I haven’t seen any real analysis as to what exactly Newcastle have bought, his overall profile and career history, to give us clues of what to expect.
Here is a season by season guide to what Florian Lejeuen has done so far in professional football:
2009/10 – French second division, started 14 league games for Istres.
2010/11 – French second division, started 27 league games for Istres.
2011/12 – Spanish second division, started 25 league games for Villarreal reserves.
2012/13 – Spanish second division, started 9 league games for Villarreal reserves, plus 2 starts in La Liga for the first team.
Then went on loan to Brest, making 2 starts for their reserve team before 8 starts in Ligue 1.
2013/14 – French second division, started 4 league games for Brest when he stayed on loan after they were relegated, plus 8 starts for their reserves.
2014/15 – Spanish second division, started 40 league games for Girona.
2015/16 – Spanish second division, started 41 league games for Girona.
2016/17 – La Liga, started league 33 games for SD Eibar.
(Manchester City signed him in summer 2015 and then immediately loaned Lejeune back to Girona, before a year later selling him for £1m to SD Eibar. Lejeune says he doesn’t want to talk about the Manchester City episode but I can only assume he was signed by them with the intention of probably then passing him on to one of the Man City owners’ other clubs in the US or Australia)
I think the big question has to be, why did Florian Lejeune spend all of those years playing second tier football in the low standard French and Spanish lower leagues?
This doesn’t mean that he can’t be a success in the Premier League but when you look at his overall profile, it is very embarrassing (and worrying) just how much Newcastle United are making of the signing. It is almost as if this is it, this is as good as it gets so enjoy it.
You are looking at a 26 year old player who has had one decent season in a top tier of any country, never mind the Premier League.
Even that was playing for absolute minnows SD Eibar in front of five thousand fans.
I say that not to disparage either Lejeune or Eibar but just to point out how ridiculous it is when the question is posed as to why he decided to come to Newcastle…?
Playing in front of ten times as many supporters and his wage doubled/trebled/whatever, hardly the most difficult of decisions.
I just don’t like the way so many Newcastle fans blindly follow the local journalists who are taking the line of what a brilliant signing Florian Lejeune is, compared to the stupid over the top fees other Premier League clubs are paying for players. Such as Bournemouth shelling out £20m for Nathan Ake and Everton £30m for Michael Keane.
Yes, if Florian Lejeune does prove to be as good or better than that pair and others, then we can all celebrate a bargain signing.
However, until we reach that point, the bottom line surely is that Florian Lejeune is a longshot to be a success, compared to say Michael Keane who has already shown form in the Premier League.
Newcastle have gone to the supermarket bargain aisle with this signing and we all hope he turns out be indeed, a bargain signing from the continent, rather than another Riviere, Marveaux, Anita, de Jong…
It is common sense though surely that Newcastle need at least a couple of major signings who have more depth in their career so far than Florian Lejeune, players who you expect to be able to do it in the Premier League, rather than it being a pleasant surprise if they do prove a success.
The over the top week of celebrations heralding the signing of Lejeune…what if Newcastle sign a player who we had all previously heard of???
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