According to a recent report, newly-promoted Newcastle are aiming to beat both Arsenal and Tottenham to sign Eibar defender Florian Lejeune.

The 26-year-old Frenchman has reportedly been on Arsenal’s radar in recent months and it’s no surprise. The centre-back has been one of the most consistent across the La Liga season for Eibar during a campaign where they were expected to struggle in a relegation battle but managed to surprise many and secure a top-half finish.

He was said to have a release clause of £8.7m in his contract and is keen on a move to the Premier League. However, we reported that the Gunners have formally enquired about his availability, which suggests the club evidently haven’t done their homework on his contract situation – or the reporters don’t know what they’re talking about.

Newcastle are eager to take advantage by paying the £8.7m upfront to activate his release clause, whilst offering a wage increase to speed up talks. The fact that Ruben Semedo has joined Villarreal despite Newcastle’s interest intensifies things for Rafa Benitez’s side as they want to bolster defensively ahead of next season.

Arsenal have plenty of depth at centre-back and their interest is surprising, especially in a defender that has no Premier League experience. Tottenham meanwhile, have four or five players that can feature at centre-back dependent on Mauricio Pochettino’s chosen formation.

As a result, it’s increasingly unlikely that Lejeune would be prepared to join a top-flight side to have a bit-part role given his integral role for Eibar last season.

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Football writer. Objective reviews and analysis of European football. Lifelong Arsenal fan, youth football enthusiast.