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Newcastle United

Newcastle United’s Florian Lejeune showing Rafa Benitez was right to take £8.7million risk

The Frenchman has been in fine form for the Magpies since his return from injury.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle United have been superb in recent weeks and have climbed to safety after breaking through the 40-point mark.

Their gradual improvement over the course of the season has been great to watch and underlines the quality of their manager, Rafa Benitez.

His squad has often been spoken about as a ‘Championship squad’, but that seems harsh given their position in the Premier League table.

During the summer, Benitez was disappointed by the lack of backing that he received in the transfer window, but the additions that he did make have provided the squad with more quality.

Florian Lejeune signed from Eibar, for £8.7 million, before the season kicked off and there has been a sharp improvement in his performances recently.

The Frenchman missed a couple of months after picking up an injury towards the end of 2017.

He returned to the team against Manchester United in a game that could be considered a turning point of their season.

They started the match in the relegation zone and the three points made the supporters believe that they could climb the league table.

Since that game, the Magpies have taken 13 points from a possible 18 available and managed to move away from danger into a promising position.

(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

The reason for their upturn in fortune hasn’t been solely down to Lejeune, but he has more than played his part.

Benitez has established a solid spine and that has been vital in the recent winning form.

Martin Dubravka, Jamaal Lascelles, Lejeune, Jonjo Shelvey, Mohamed Diame and Ayoze Perez have been regular starters down the middle of the pitch.

This group of players give Benitez a good base from which to build on over the coming season.

Defensively, Lejeune has done very well in recent weeks and been a major reason why they have only conceded two goals in their last four matches.

He averages 6.97 clearances, 0.93 tackles and 1.96 interceptions per ninety minutes, while his physicality has allowed him to adapt to the English game.

The Frenchman has won an impressive 60.78% of his aerial duals.

In addition to being an assured defender, Lejeune has managed to impress with his ball-playing ability and that has added another dimension to the Newcastle team.

He has completed 78% of his passes and showed on numerous that he can play threatening long balls over an opposition defence.

The best example of this was his assist for Ayoze Perez last weekend against Leicester.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on April 15, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

It was a perfectly weighted through ball to find the Spaniard and led to the team earning another three points.

Benitez may not have been given the amount of money that he believes is needed to turn Newcastle into the force they can become, but the signing of Lejeune is looking like a successful one.

There were doubts during his first few months in the country, but he has developed into a very good Premier League centre-back and his partnership with Lascelles continues to improve.

The coming summer is going to be huge for the future for the football club and the board must bend over backwards to keep their manager happy.

The success of Lejeune should encourage them to release the funds as Benitez has proven value can be found in the modern market.

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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England National Team

“No surprise”: Twitter reacts to rumours of Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey’s England return

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Photo: Getty Images.

When news broke that Newcastle United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey could be in line for an England recall, fans around the country reacted in a variety of ways, both of joy and dread, that the former Liverpool man could be on the plane to Russia.

The Times say that his form, combined with fitness concerns over Jack Wilshere and Adam Lallana, have put him in the frame, and England boss Gareth Southgate is set watch as his Magpies team face Everton on Monday.

The 26-year-old has been key to Rafa Benitez’s side this season as they have re-established themselves back in the top flight of English football.

(Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Shelvey has already got six England caps to his name, the most recent coming in November 2015 against France, and he could now earn a return two and a half years later.

His sparkling form has caught the eye as all three goals he has been involved with this season (one goal and two assists) have come in his last four appearances.

Here’s how Twitter reacted to the news…

Many believed it was about time…

Plenty made comparisons to the alternatives, with two in particular coming up a few times…

He’s made some eat their words…

Yet not all agreed…

After three years in the international wilderness, Jonjo Shelvey will need to maintain his current form if he is to enter into the fight to earn himself a ticket on the plane to Russia as a surprise inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s squad to face Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in World Cup Group G.

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Newcastle United

Fernando Torres should reunite with Rafa Benitez at Newcastle next season

A romantic return to the Premier League could suit both parties.

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Fernando Torres
Photo: Getty Images

Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres announced he would be leaving his boyhood club this summer, and also ruled out a domestic move to another La Liga club.

The experienced Spanish international would be a prudent signing for Newcastle United, where Torres could reunite with Rafa Benitez and serve as a wise mentor to the Magpie’s attackers.

Torres has enjoyed a quietly productive season in Madrid, bagging eight goals in a primarily substitute role. And just this weekend against Levante, the striker rolled back the years with a trademark volleyed goal into the top corner.

Although the Spaniard is 34 years of age, he could nonetheless contribute in meaningful ways for the Magpies. Newcastle lack experience up top and Torres would be a brilliant teacher for the talents of Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

In addition, Newcastle simply need depth in attacking positions, with just Perez, Gayle, and Islam Slimani comprising their strike-force. This lack of forward options is due in a large part to the reluctance of Mike Ashley to spend money on transfers, an issue that has annoyed Benitez in the past.

Before Newcastle’s impressive 2-1 win over Arsenal at St. James’ Park this weekend, Benitez again called on Ashley to invest in the squad over the summer.

With the Magpies securing their Premier League status in superb fashion against the Gunners, confidence and optimism is flowing in the Northeast. It seems if there was ever a time for Newcastle’s notoriously stingy owner to splash the cash, it would be this offseason.

Fernando Torres should be top of Rafa Benitez’s wish list, and with the two Spaniards famously enjoying a warm relationship during their time at Liverpool, Torres would take little convincing to make the switch to Newcastle.

ust like his ex-manager, Torres would do well to leave Madrid and take on a project of his own at St. James’ Park this summer.

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English Premier League

Forgotten Newcastle United man Ivan Toney has six goals in 10 Scunthorpe starts

The 22-year-old has been in fine form away from Newcastle United.

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Newcastle United fans can now sit back and relax for the final five games of their season. Rafa Benitez has done a fantastic job at St James’ Park this season and today led the Magpies to a 2-1 win against Arsenal to secure Premier League football for next season. Goals from Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie helped Newcastle to the crucial win and the club can now start looking forward to next season.

There will undoubtedly be plenty of players hoping they can play a bigger role at St James’ Park in 2018-19 – including those currently out on loan.

One such player is Ivan Toney. Whilst the excellent form of Adam Armstrong at Blackburn Rovers has been the talk of Newcastle loanees in League One, the form of Toney cannot be understated.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

After starting the season on loan at Wigan Athletic he headed back to former temporary home Scunthorpe United in January. His form since has been excellent. At the weekend he scored in the 1-0 win against Charlton Athletic. It took his tally with the League One club to six goals from 10 starts.

It is a brilliant streak of form which is helping Nick Daws’ side move into the play-off contention.

But Toney is something of a forgotten man at Newcastle. He signed for the Toon from Northampton Town in August 2015 and was being tipped for future stardom at St James’ Park. Whilst the fee was subject to a confidentiality clause, it was reported by The Mirror that it was worth around £250,000.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Since that move, the now 22-year-old has played just two league games for the club and is yet to start a single game for Newcastle.

Toney is still under contract at Newcastle until 2020 and it seems he is finally finding his feet out on loan.

If he can have a productive pre-season at Newcastle, perhaps he can play his way into the plans of Benitez for next season.

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