Florian Lejeune on ill-fated Man City move, Newcastle ‘happiness’ and Rafa Benitez

New Newcastle United signing Florian Lejeune unveiled at the club training ground.
New Newcastle United signing Florian Lejeune unveiled at the club training ground.
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Florian Lejeune would rather forget his spell as a Manchester City player – but he feels he’ll have an unforgettable stay at Newcastle United.

Lejeune moved to the club from Eibar this week in an £8.8million deal.

And the 26-year-old – who has signed a five-year deal – is looking to hit the ground running in pre-season.

Lejeune joined City in the summer of 2015 as part of an arrangement with Girona.

The defender was loaned back to his former club for the season and left a year later without kicking a ball in the Premier League.

Lejeune doesn’t want to dwell on the past.

It’s a huge club with great supporters and a great coach. Everything was perfect for me to come here. It’s overwhelming, but great.

Florian Lejeune

Asked about his move to City, the Paris-born player said: “I’d rather not go into it.

“I want to focus on Newcastle. That was the past, Newcastle is the future.”

On his move to Newcastle, Lejeune added: “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 in Manchester City, as far as I’m concerned, never happened.

“I wasn’t there. I never played there. I’ve come to play for Newcastle and that’s it. I’m happy.

“I’m very happy to be back in the Premier League.

“I was always planning to play in the Premier League in England.

“With Manchester City, the relationship was a bit complicated, so I preferred to leave. That was why I decided to leave before the end of the season.”

Lejeune was sold on a move to United after speaking to manager Rafa Benitez.

“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,” he said.

Lejeune believes Benitez will improve him as a defender.

“He was very important to my decision. For many years, my career was going up and down and up and down.

“Getting a call from Rafa 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 Rafa Benitez’, so I had to say yes.”

While Lejeune is finding his feet in the city, he knows all about the club.

“It’s an emblem – it’s iconic,” he said.

“I have seen many matches at Newcastle and I have just seen the stadium. The stadium was amazing, but the supporters were even more amazing.

“Newcastle has always been in the Premier League, and has also been a first class club.

“What happened last year (relegation) was just a bit of a hitch.

“Newcastle are back where they belong now, and the objective is to go further and higher up the league.”

Lejeune, known as a no-nonsense and uncomplicated defender in Spain, must now adapt to the physicality and intensity English football.

“I don’t about the English league yet, because I haven’t started yet,” he said.

“All I can say is that the Spanish league is of a very high quality with fantastic players.”

Lejeune’s also looking forward to playing in front of the club’s fans.

“That’s one of the reason I came here,” he said.

“It’s a huge club with great supporters and a great coach. Everything was perfect for me to come here. It’s overwhelming, but great.”