By Derek Smithson

Newcastle are interested in signing defender Florian Lejeune from La Liga club Eibar, according to a report.

The Northern Echo claim that the Magpies have “made contact” for the 26-year-old as manager Rafael Benitez looks to strengthen his backline.

It is understood that the north-east club have identified the Frenchman as good enough to help their Premier League return and he is likely to replace Grant Hanley, who could be sold to Derby.

The report details that Lejeune does have a release clause of £8.7million, but Premier League rivals Tottenham and Arsenal are interested.

Lejeune has been an ever-present in the Eibar starting line-up since his arrival last summer and made 37 appearances across all competitions last season.

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He was previously on the books at Manchester City, but was unable to make a single appearance for the English club.

Football Insider verdict:

Newcastle certainly need to improve their defensive options if they are to be competitive next season in the top flight, with Hanley, Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark and Grant Hanley current available to Benitez. Lejeune may seem like a good option due to his £8.7million price tag and has proven himself to be steady in La Liga by helping Eibar to a 10th-placed finish. However, the centre-back has already failed to make an impact in England and there is no guarantee he could be any better a year on. Benitez should consider going for a proven Premier League performer, instead, as he looks to establish Newcastle in the top flight.

In other Newcastle transfer news, they are in talks with Chelsea about a loan move for their 19-year-old.

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