When Manchester City sold the relatively unknown French defender, Florian Lejeune, to La Liga side Eibar last summer, it looked to be a shrewd bit of business by Blues chiefs.
City had signed Lejeune for a fee of around £215,000 from partner club Girona the year before, then loaned him straight back in an effort to boost Girona’s push for promotion from the Segunda División.
Girona didn’t go up, but Lejeune made a huge impression leading to an approach from Eibar. Eibar triggered Lejeune’s €1.5 million (£1.24 million) release clause and City profited to the tune of around £1 million on a player they probably had no intention of using.
Fast forward nine months and the 25-year-old has been a key player for an Eibar side sitting in 8th and punching above their weight. And according to Marca, City’s Premier League rivals, Arsenal, are ‘very interested’ in signing Lejeune at the end of the season.
Arsenal are ‘seriously contemplating’ paying around €10 million for Lejeune and Arsene Wenger has given the go-ahead to make this deal happen, Marca claim. Eibar are studying the possibility of improving his contract, but realise if a club of Arsenal’s wealth and stature comes knocking, they will lose a player who has gone from a Manchester City unknown to an in-demand La Liga name.
Did City drop the ball? Not really, because Florian Lejeune had a release clause, meaning once Eibar activated it, he just had to give the thumbs up and the deal was done. City made their profit and now Eibar may be about to do the same to much greater effect.