Florian Lejeune had a fantastic first season at Newcastle.
The French defender arrived from Eibar in 2017, eventually forming a brilliant partnership with Jamaal Lascelles.
It wasn’t all plain-sailing though. Lejeune picked up an injury on the opening day of the season courtesy of Harry Kane. On his return, he initially struggled, with the rigours of the Premier League proving to be too much.
However, once he adapted, Lejeune proved what a brilliant signing he was. Ahead of his second season, the centre-back was struck down with injury again.
A serious knee injury ruled him out of action, and there was talk that he’d be out for the season. However, the Chronicle have reported that Lejeune could be back in early 2019.
Will Lejeune walk straight back into the team?
In his absence, Newcastle signed Federico Fernandez from Swansea.
The Argentinian has proven to be an excellent acquisition, barely putting a foot wrong since joining.
Fernandez is a leader, proving why he got the captaincy at Swansea. However, age isn’t on his side. Fernandez will turn 30 in January, so doesn’t have too many years at the top left in him.
In comparison, Lejeune is just 27, entering the peak years of his career.
The uncapped Frenchman proved how good he was last season, and has a great understanding with Lascelles. While Fernandez has done just the same, he should step aside for Lejeune when he returns.
It was that solid partnership that saw us survive last season, and Rafa Benitez should use it at the first opportunity this time out.