Florian Lejeune will ‘Put a few quid in the coffers’ – Steve Bruce
Florian Lejeune is on his way out of Newcastle United.
Indeed, the 30 year old central defender is currently in Spain, finalising a permanent move to La Liga minnows Alaves, stayed up relatively comfortably in the end last season, with on-loan star Florian Lejeune quite clear one of the key factors. Staying up is most definitely an achievement for a small club such as Alaves.
Throughout the 2020/21 season Florian Lejeune was getting rave reviews from the Spanish media despite playing for a club in a season-long relegation struggle.
Newcastle United had sent Florian Lejeune out on loan to get full fitness and play regularly, which he did by starting 34 La Liga games and indeed, was only subbed off in one of them. His form also speaks for itself as he has held the Alaves defence together and helped guide them to safety.
These are the automated Whoscored ratings system results for the Alaves squad, the table showing who put in the best performances throughout the 2020/21 season:
As you can see, our old mate Joselu at the very top with an average rating for the 31 year old of 7.22, followed in second place by NUFC loan star Florian Lejeune.
After a poor performance and 1-0 defeat to sixth tier York City on Sunday, Steve Bruce was quizzed on the absence of the French defender:
“Florian Lejeune is on his way to Spain and it looks as if something is going to happen there.
“It will put a few quid in the coffers.
“He’s going back to Alaves where he was on loan, there is something imminent.”
For a lot of Newcastle fans, they will be disappointed to see Florian Lejeune.
Not devastated of course, as you see in some of the reaction on social media…
However, when fully fit he looked a really good defender and one who gave balance playing on the left of a pair or a trio of centre-backs, plus excellent at playing the ball or bringing it out of defence.
Ironic that the main reason given for his loan was for Florian Lejeune to play games and show he was back to full fitness, he does that and shows excellent form, but then Newcastle get rid of him anyway.
Also on the ironic front, Lejeune started 34 La Liga matches last season and completed all but one of them, yet Newcastle’s central defenders last season – Jamaal Lascelles 19 Premier League starts, Schar 13, Fernandez 24, Dummett 14 and Clark 21.
When Steve Bruce mentions ‘a few quid’ that is probably quite literally pretty much what Alaves will have paid. They will struggle enough to be able to offer acceptable wages to Florian Lejeune, so any transfer fee will be minimal.
Considering the fact that under Steve Bruce the defence has gone from having been the seventh best in 2017/18 and 2018/19 when it comes to how many goals conceded, to now be the fifth worst in 2020/21, there is plenty room for improvement and Florian Lejeune could have played his part in that.
In that 2018/19 season, with Lejeune and Schar playing as two of three centre-backs, Newcastle had the seventh best defence AND two players (playing alongside Jamaal Lascelles usually) who helped United play better football, starting moves from the back, rather than Jonjo Shelvey standing next to the central defenders and taking two yard passes off them.
That 2018/19 season, Shelvey played early on in the desperate start NUFC made, but then was all but totally sidelined by Benitez, only starting two Premier League matches after 3 November 2018. Newcastle were all the better for it, in the final 28 PL matches of that 2018/19 season NUFC had the eighth best form in the top tier, whilst in the final 16 matches it was the fifth best form.
However, Steve Bruce doesn’t appear to appreciate ball playing central defenders and Lejeune is on his way out, whilst Bruce never shows much enthusiasm for Schar either, no surprise if the popular Swiss international also follows the Frenchman out of Toon.
Easy to forget as well just how many times Steve Bruce was forced to use Isaac Hayden as an emergency defender last season.
Letting Florian Lejeune go for a pittance isn’t likely to be a season-deciding move but it is difficult to see this as something that puts Newcastle United in a better position for the new season. Especially with the likes of Kyle Bartley repeatedly mentioned as a Steve Bruce target, the 30 year old West Brom player would be yet another no nonsense defender added to the likes of Lascelles and Fernandez.
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