A great press conference today with newly signed central defender Florian Lejeune, who completed an £8.8M move from Spanish club Eibar last Monday and it was well received by Newcastle fans.
Lejeune is here to do well at Newcastle and he’s a motivated player and comes across as a terrific professional; he could well become a fan favorite very soon.
We need one or two new center-backs coming in to challenge Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark for the center-back starting position – and both our lads had excellent seasons last term and both improved a lot too.
Rafa Benitez and Florian Lejeune last Monday after Florian signed for us
Ciaran Clark turned out to be a stellar signing from Aston Villa for just £5M last summer and he was great for us last season, but both lads face increased competition this term for their first team starting positions and that’s good for the team – and they both know that.
It was really a tremendous achievement for Newcastle to win the Championship last season, when the competition was so much more difficult than seven years ago – and Rafa really hasn’t got the full credit he deserves for that.
But we are not going to dwell on that and it’s upward and onward from now on.
Here’s what Florian Lejeune has said when introduced today at the Benton Training grounds:
“Getting a call from Rafael Benitez was absolutely amazing, and I could only say yes. It was like a dream.”
“When I got the call, I thought it was a prank so I didn’t say anything. After a few hours, I said, ‘Yes, that’s Rafael Benitez’, so I had to say yes.”
“He was very important to my decision. For many years, my career was going up and down and up and down.”
“He’s a great coach. Everyone knows him and he has won lots of trophies – that is Rafa Benitez.” “Newcastle is a very big club with a fantastic history.”
“As soon as Rafa phoned me, we had a good discussion and there was no question about whether to come or not.”
“It’s always been a dream. I have played in Spain and France, and everyone was telling me that the English league was very important and very intense.”
“I really wanted to come and play here, and hopefully I will be able to prove that I am worth it.”
“Alexandre Lacazette and I are very good friends. We have been friends for many years and the fact he has signed with Arsenal is no surprise to me.”
“I have always known he was a great forward. In the past, he was often the best player in the team.”
“They have signed a goalscorer – in the last three or four years, he has been putting in at least 20 goals a season, so he is definitely a goalscorer.”
It’s interesting that he’s best friends with Alexandre Lacazette, who was a former Newcastle target three years ago and has just signed for Arsenal for a mammoth £53M.
But no banana for the Gunners with the Red Devils about to sign Everton striker Romelu Lukaku for what the Mirror are calling a sensational signing at a cool £75M.
We suppose with the national media the higher the transfer fee the more sensational is the signing – well Romelu’s certainly expensive.
We like Florian Lejeune the more we hear from him, but of course the litmus test is how he performs in pre-season and next season.
It will be very interesting to see who the two starting center-backs are in the Sky televised first game of the season against Premier League runners-up Tottenham on August 12th.
Maybe Rafa will even play a three man back line for that game?