Newcastle United need some sort of spark to ignite their season, and Steve Bruce’s side require help both offensively and defensively.
The latter speaks for itself after last weekend’s humiliation at Leicester City, but the team’s dire lack of creativity is a big issue, as well. It’s strange, then, that potential return of a centre back could help solve both those problems.
Magpies head coach Steve Bruce confirmed at his pre match press conference on Friday, as per journalist Chris Waugh’s personal Twitter account, that the Frenchman is two weeks away from returning to action.
The 28-year-old has been out of action since picking up a second serious injury in under a year against Crystal Palace in early April, but is seemingly closing in on a comeback.
The Newcastle fans are surely rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the former Eibar man returning to the first team, with his unique combination of defensive solidity and underrated passing much-missed in recent months.
When you compare what he did last season to what the Magpies’ other centre halves have produced this campaign, it becomes clear that Lejeune offers something different.
As per WhoScored.com, the Frenchman provided way more key passes per game than any of Fabian Schar, Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett have this term: 0.5 to none and 0.1 respectively.
Meanwhile, he averaged the most passes per outing at 46.9, while his pass success rate of 76.2% is the second most of the quartet. However, where he really excels is in long balls forward, where Lejeune almost doubles the number of long balls forward per game (6.8) than the closest Newcastle centre half (3.9). Plus, his average WhoScored rating per game of 6.95 is the best of all four men.
With all that said, there can be no doubt that Lejeune’s return is a big deal for this Newcastle team. They need him back as soon as possible, and Bruce’s update here is a god-send for the Toon Army.