France defender Florian Lejeune has explained his move to Newcastle after completing a £8.7million switch from Eibar.
The 26-year-old central defender was on Tyneside on Monday to undergo a medical and the Magpies confirmed early on Tuesday morning that he had become manager Rafael Benitez second summer signing on a contract to the summer of 2022.
A club statement said: “Defender Florian Lejeune has become Newcastle United’s second signing of the summer transfer window after joining from SD Eibar.
“Twenty-six-year-old Lejeune has put pen to paper on a five-year-deal with the Magpies, which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2022.”
Paris-born Lejeune becomes Benitez’s second summer signing following the permanent capture of Chelsea winger Christian Atsu, who played his part in last season’s promotion back to the Premier League during a loan spell.
Rafa: “I would like to welcome Florian to Newcastle United. He is a player that has done very well this year in Spain.” pic.twitter.com/CH1iYy3UU8
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) July 4, 2017
After cutting his teeth in French football, he moved to Spanish side Villarreal in 2011 and was picked up by Manchester City during the summer of 2015 and immediately loaned out to Girona, and he made a permanent switch to Eibar 12 months later.
Now the former France Under-20 international will hope to finally make his mark in the English top flight – he did not make a single senior appearance for City – after being persuaded that was where his future lay by Benitez.
Lejeune said: “I’m very happy to have signed. Newcastle United is a big club and I’m very happy to be here.
“When you have a manager like Rafa Benitez who wants you, you are very happy to come. Since I’ve been in touch with the manager, it was an easy decision for me to come here.”
The deal has been in the pipeline for some time, but was delayed by negotiations over the way payment would be structured.
Its completion will come as a boost to Benitez, who had grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of activity in an inflated summer transfer market.
He said: “I would like to welcome Florian to Newcastle United. He is a player that has done very well this year in Spain. I have known about him for a while, since he began playing for Villarreal.
“He has progressed a lot as a player in the last few years and I know he will give us something different at the back – he is good with both feet, he’s big and he’s good in the air also.
“If he settles well into English football, then I am sure he will be a success and will give us a lot of competition in this area.”