Rafa Benitez reveals why Florian Lejeune has been ‘unlucky’ at Newcastle

Florian Lejeune
Florian Lejeune

Florian Lejeune’s been “unlucky” at Newcastle United, according to Rafa Benitez.

Lejeune, signed from Eibar last summer, was injured 34 minutes into his debut.

I think he is doing really well and I, at the same time, feel he has been really unlucky, which isn’t something I think a lot of people realise.

Rafa Benitez

The defender also suffered an injury in training.

Only now has Lejeune established himself in Benitez’s defence.

“I think he is doing really well and I, at the same time, feel he has been really unlucky, which isn’t something I think a lot of people realise,” said United manager Benitez.

“I was talking with Antonio (Gomez, Newcastle’s first-team coach) about this and about when Florian was at Girona and Eibar. He had no injuries in Spain. He was always playing – every game.

“Then, for us, in the first game against Tottenham, one bad tackle, a big problem, and since then he had a couple of months before kicking a ball during a tackle with Ayoze, and there’s another injury.

“So he has been really unlucky for someone who is coming here; a new centre-back, someone who needs to know what it means to be involved in the physicality of the Premier League.”

Benitez signed Lejeune, preparing for Saturday’s Premier League home game against Huddersfield Town, for his ability on the ball.

The 26-year-old – who didn’t play a game for Manchester City during his year-long association with the club – has had to get used to Benitez’s tactics and the physicality of English football.

“He’s a player who has quality on the ball, and also he has to change the way he was playing, because at Eibar he was pushing up and for us he has to know when to push up or drop off,” said Benitez.

“The first year in the Premier League is quite difficult for everyone, but especially for a centre-back. And particularly for a centre-back who’s good on the ball.

“Florian’s good on the ball, and everybody’s also expecting him to be strong and good in the air, but the main thing is he has this quality on the ball.

“When Florian plays, he gives us something different from defence – and the understanding between him and Jamaal (Lascelles) is positive.”