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Florian Lejeune and Muto compete for the wooden spoon as Mikel Merino lifts trophy

2 weeks ago

Florian Lejeune and Yoshinori Muto both moved to Spain last summer.

The two Newcastle United players looking to get regular football in La Liga, to help get them get back into contention at St James Park, or elsewhere.

Yoshinori Muto moving to Eibar (Lejeune’s former club) for the season, Florian Lejeune to Alaves where Joselu now plays.

Last week, a report from the CIES Football Observatory looked at the best performing players in the big five European leagues this season, using their algorithm, Florian Lejeune was the highest rate of the Alaves players this season.

Any personal satisfaction the French defender may get from that accolade is completely overshadowed though by the way this season has fallen apart for Alaves.

Florian Lejeune helped his loan club put together a far better defensive record than last season, in the opening 16 La Liga games they only conceded 18 goals. Which was the base for them to accumulate a decent 18 points from the first 16 matches.

However, the next 13 La Liga games have seen things nosedive, a seriously high 29 goals conceded and only five points added, with these last 13 matches producing ten defeats, two draws and just the one win.

Sunday brought the latest defeat, a 3-1 home defeat to Celta Vigo and even a first league goal for Florian Lejeune since that hilarious late double at Everton, will have done little to help the mood.

This is how the La Liga table looks on Monday:

Yes, as you can see, Alaves and Florian Lejeune rock bottom.

Even worse from a Newcastle United perspective, Yoshinori Muto and Eibar are only kept off the bottom by goal difference.

The Japanese striker has only started 12 La Liga matches and scored one goal, no league starts since 7 February 2021, named on the bench for the rest of February and then ruled out with a foot injury since then.

The two Newcastle United loan players set to battle it out for the wooden spoon these final nine matches, hoping as well they can help their loan clubs get out of relegation trouble.

The pair both have one year left on their contracts and as it stands, don’t know whether they will returning to a Premier League or Championship club, whether that (which league) makes any difference to whether they will then be with Newcastle next season, remains to be seen.

For Mikel Merino though, he hasn’t looked back since leaving Newcastle United.

Currently seventh with Real Sociedad, Merino has also becoming a full international with Spain.

However, things got even better on Saturday, as Mikel Merino played the full match and helped Real Sociedad beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to lift the Copa Del Rey.

The former Newcastle United player won the man of the match award in Saturday’s final.


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