It was a long time coming.
After weeks of talks, Florian Lejeune finally joined Newcastle United.
Lejeune, signed yesterday from Eibar for £8.8million, now just wants to get to work at the “emblematic” club.
“Newcastle is a great club, and one of the most emblematic in the whole of England,” said the Paris-born defender, who has signed a five-year deal at St James’s Park.
“Some huge players have been here, not just French, but also English, such as Alan Shearer.
“The stadium, St James’s Park, is amazing. So when a club like Newcastle comes calling, you can only be interested.
The stadium, St James’s Park, is amazing. So when a club like Newcastle comes calling, you can only be interested.Florian Lejeune
“It’s a dream. At Newcastle, every weekend there’s a big match involving the best players and it’s always been my dream to play in this league.
“Now I’m lucky enough to have this opportunity.”
Lejeune is keen to play “as many games as possible” in the coming Premier League season.
First things first, Lejeune must learn English and get through a demanding pre-season campaign.
“First, to learn the language and to settle into the squad. I want to focus on getting a good pre-season behind me, which will be very important.
“Afterwards, I’d love to play as many games as possible to help keep the club in the Premier League.”
Lejeune didn’t play a game for former team Manchester City, having been loaned out to Girona during a “strange” year-long association with the big-spending club.
He left and joined Eibar last summer.
It turned out to be a good move.
“It was a strange relationship with Manchester City, but that’s in the past,” said Lejeune, who helped Eibar finish 11th in La Liga last year.
“Now I’m here at Newcastle, and I’m hoping to have a great season and work really hard.
“I’m delighted to have signed here. I hope the fans will be proud. I will give everything I have out there on the pitch.”
Lejeune, strong in the air and in the tackle, is known as a no-nonsense centre-half in La Liga, where his uncomplicated style won him plaudits.
“I’m pretty good with my head, can play good long balls and also play simple when needed,” he said.
“Technically good, but the fans will be able to judge for themselves.”
Benitez is also keen to get to work with Lejeune, who feels the 57-year-old will make him a better player.
“When one of the best managers tells you he wants you to be part of his team, you know he will really push you to be your very best and, in part, it’s thanks to him that I signed here,” said Lejeune.
“He was well aware of my abilities and spoke about what I would be able to achieve in England.
“He said that the Premier League is the best in the world, that it’s very physical and intense and if I came to work with him I’d be able to achieve my personal goals.”