Florian Lejeune admits he is treating his dream move to Manchester City as if it “never happened” as he prepares to finally launch his Premier League career at Newcastle.
The 26-year-old defender was bought by City from Spanish side Villarreal in August 2015 and straight away loaned to Girona, and he left for good last summer when he headed to fellow LaLiga outfit Eibar without kicking a ball in anger for the Etihad Stadium side.
It has been suggested that City’s move for the player was part of their long-term strategy to secure Pep Guardiola as their manager – his brother Pere headed a consortium which bought a controlling share in Girona in 2015 – but whatever their motivation, Lejeune has put the episode firmly behind him.
He said: “It’s over, what happened with Man City is over. I want to concentrate on things here. I have nothing to prove to them, I only have things to prove to the fans here. I will work and work to prove I am worthy of this move.
“It doesn’t feel strange to be here, it feels like a dream. I’m really pleased to be here because it’s what I’ve always wanted.
“What happened at Manchester City, as far as I’m concerned it never happened. I wasn’t there, I never played there. I’ve come to play for Newcastle and that’s it – I’m happy.”
Lejeune played a key role as Eibar finished in a creditable 10th place in LaLiga last season while Newcastle were fighting their way out of the Sky Bet Championship.
He is manager Rafael Benitez’s second summer signing, and while the Spaniard was delighted to finally get a protracted transfer over the line, he has become increasingly frustrated by the lack of transfer activity otherwise as he attempts to rebuild for life back in the top flight.
However, Lejeune has no qualms about the move.
He said: “I don’t see this as a risk at all. I’m coming to Newcastle, which is a great club. It’s always been a great club. Having Rafa Benitez as a coach too, I’m not taking risks here.
“I was happy, but I was mainly proud that someone like Rafa Benitez with all his background and winning the Champions League with Liverpool could ring me to be in his team.”