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Newcastle United plot Florian Lejeune transfer to boost Steve Bruce’s budget

According to The Shields Gazette, Newcastle United are keen to sell Florian Lejeune in the summer window to increase Steve Bruce’s transfer budget.

Bruce is set to work with a restricted war chest as he strives to improve a Toon squad that spent much of the season fighting for their Premier League survival.

One position Newcastle are particularly keen to strengthen is at centre-back. Bruce has instructed the Magpies’ scouts to find at least one option but several are under consideration.

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Among the candidates being assessed are Ozan Kabak after he returned to Schalke following a loan spell at Liverpool, plus QPR’s Rob Dickie, Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer and Vitesse’s Danilho Doekhi.

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But Lejeune does not have a future at St. James’ Park and could leave Tyneside permanently after returning from a one-year loan spell with La Liga side Alaves.

The Frenchman is likely to be sold as he enters the final year of his Newcastle contract this summer and new terms are not expected despite impressing in Spain.

United are still in talks with Federico Fernandez over extending his contract while the club will activate a one-year option for Fabian Schar, with both set to be free agents from the end of next month.

TBR’s view: Newcastle could regret Lejeune exit

Selling Lejeune in the summer transfer window would make financial sense for Newcastle by increasing the budget available to Bruce through parting with a player who is out of favour.

But the Toon could regret letting the Frenchman leave, having performed well in his year at Alaves and proven that he still has a lot to offer Bruce.

Lejeune had suffered an injury-ravished few years on Tyneside that heavily restricted his availability, yet was still considered a ‘very important’ player by Rafa Benitez (Chronicle). He struggled to be key for Bruce due to further injuries, but rarely missed action in Spain.

The 30-year-old sat out just four La Liga fixtures all season and played the full 90 minutes in 33 of his 34 appearances. His efforts ultimately helped Alaves avoid relegation, having been dubbed a lifesaver.

Lejeune stood out at the Mendizorrotza Stadium as he could play the ball out from the back and was often dominant in the air, but importantly had the tactical mind to read the game in a side that – like Newcastle – rarely dictated the possession.

Having now proved his fitness while out on loan, Lejeune may feel he deserves another shot at St. James’ Park, a shot that Bruce should be more than willing to give without a next-level signing coming in.

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