Florian Lejeune was one of the players last season who looked as though he could prove a top player.
Recovering from that early injury picked up when Harry Kane took him out in the opening match of the season, the Frenchman impressed when coming back into the team.
Then a foot injury in December meant another spell out – but when returning for the home game against Manchester United, from that point on, Florian Lejeune never looked back.
He and Jamaal Lascelles looked to have built an excellent and growing partnership, Newcastle conceding only 11 goals in the final 12 PL matches.
In fact, an end of season feature (see below) on the official Premier League website, selected Florian Lejeune as one of the players set to make a big impact in 2018/19 – those end of season stats suggesting that he had actually outperformed Jamaal Lascelles.
Lejeune played 45 minutes of the opening friendly at St Patrick’s Athletic but was then missing from the Hull one with a reported knee problem.
On Saturday night though after the 0-0 draw with Porto though, Rafa Benitez has revealed the disastrous news that it is actually a cruciate ligament injury and the defender will be out for a significant amount of time.
Florian Lejeune is set to have an operation and early reports in the media are saying at least six months recovery time, meaning early 2019 at the very earliest for a return, although it could also mean we might not see him at all this coming season if it ends up being the very worst diagnosis.
“It is a cruciate ligament (for Florian Lejeune) and he will need an operation.
“We need to decide exactly when that will be but we will lose him for a while.
“It is bad news for us.”
The Mag – 19 May 2018:
The official Premier League site are picking out players who can make big impacts in 2018/19.
On Saturday they have picked out Florian Lejeune.
In the write up, it says ‘As a duo Lejeune and Lascelles gel wonderfully.’
I wouldn’t disagree.
Surprisingly, despite Harry Kane’s cowardly foul on the opening day of the season that put him out of action, Florian Lejeune actually started 24 of the 38 Premier League matches this season.
Like the rest of the team he suffered when playing in much of that awful October to December run of one point from nine games, but once he came in for an injured Ciaran Clark in February, he and Jamaal Lascelles never looked back.
Together, the central defenders were outstanding as starting with the 1-0 win over Man Utd, they helped Newcastle win five times in seven games with one draw and one defeat, as NUFC reached Premier League safety a month early.
That Florian Lejeune and Jamaal Lascelles combination helped Newcastle concede only 11 goals in the final 12 matches.
The official Premier League piece also gives us these stats on the pair, with whisper it, but the stats actually suggesting Lejeune might have been even more impressive than Lascelles…
I definitely can’t disagree with the conclusion to the PL piece which reads: ‘Provided both players remain fit, expect this developing central-defensive partnership to get even better in 2018/19. Both men are in their mid-twenties and working for a top-class coach, so there is scope for improvement as their connection grows.’
Premier League Official site:
‘Rafael Benitez made a lot of important decisions in 2017/18, but it hard to think of a better one than partnering Jamaal Lascelles with Florian Lejeune at the centre of the Newcastle United defence.
Lejeune ended up playing a crucial role as the promoted team finished 10th.
As a duo Lejeune and Lascelles gel wonderfully.
Both are tall and strong, but while Lascelles loves to get tight to opponents, Lejeune is more adept at reading the game.
Building from the back
The summer signing from Eibar spent two spells out with injury that restricted him to 24 appearances but made a difference when on the pitch.
His calmness on the ball helped Newcastle to pass through the lines and go from back to front with more quality.
A total of 23 per cent of the Frenchman’s passes were long and yet he still kept a pass accuracy of 77 per cent.
Lejeune, who was on the books of Manchester City in 2015/16, is also a natural leader.
The 26-year-old and Lascelles are always communicating and offering vocal encouragement.
While Lascelles has rightly earned widespread praise for his performances, his partner has been equally impressive. The numbers in the table below outline this.
He is dominant in the air and outstanding at breaking up play with interceptions.
Provided both players remain fit, expect this developing central-defensive partnership to get even better in 2018/19.
Both men are in their mid-twenties and working for a top-class coach, so there is scope for improvement as their connection grows.’