Newcastle United have completed the signing of Florian Lejeune from Eibar after activating his €10m (£8.8m, $11.4m) release clause. Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have also been linked with his services in recent times but the former Manchester City centre-back has agreed to continue his career at St. James' Park by putting pen to paper on a five-year-deal.
The 26-year-old defender joined Manchester City in the summer of 2015 following an impressive campaign in the Spanish second tier with Girona.
However, the Frenchman never had a chance to prove himself at the Etihad Stadium. He instead stayed on loan at the second division side during the 2015-16 campaign before being sold to Eibar during last summer's transfer window in a deal worth around €1.5m.
The towering centre-back grabbed his opportunity at the Spanish top flight with both hands, helping the club to a 10th place finish in the La Liga table and clear of relegation trouble.
In March, Marca reported Arsenal were closely monitoring his development with a view to luring him to the Emirates Stadium ahead of the 2017-2018 campaign.
The report added that Arsene Wenger was even considering meeting the release clause of his compatriot in order to bolster the Arsenal back-line.
Tottenham were also reportedly monitoring the situation but earlier on June Marca reported that Newcastle had taken the lead in the race after Rafael Benitez had earmarked the defender as his main priority in the summer transfer window.
Eibar sporting director Fran Garagarza confirmed then those reports, conceding that the La Liga side would be unable to prevent Lejeune's departure if Newcastle meet his release clause.
"I'm not very optimistic, I see it difficult for Lejeune to stay. We are worried that Newcastle are taking very strong steps," the Eibar sporting director admitted to the Spanish reports as quoted by Marca.
The negotiations had been delayed but Newcastle have now finally confirmed the addition as Benitez continues to revamp his squad. The clubs have not disclosed the details of the agreement but varying reports in Spain claim that the Magpies have paid his full release clause to complete the move.
"Defender Florian Lejeune has become Newcastle United's second signing of the summer transfer window, after joining from SD Eibar," the Toon confirmed.
"Twenty-six-year-old Lejeune has put pen to paper on a five-year-deal with the Magpies, which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2022. The Paris-born centre half is the second player to check in at St. James' Park this summer, following the permanent arrival of winger Christian Atsu in May."
Benitez, meanwhile, has expressed his delight over Lejeune's arrival, admitting that he has been tracking the development of the Frenchman since his early days at Villarreal.
"I would like to welcome Florian to Newcastle United. He is a player that has done very well this year in Spain. I have known about him for a while, since he began playing for Villarreal," the Spanish boss said.
"He has progressed a lot as a player in the last few years and I know he will give us something different at the back - he is good with both feet, he's big and he's good in the air also. If he settles well into English football then I am sure he will be a success and will give us a lot of competition in this area."