Acrhaf Lazaar has told The Chronicle that he DID NOT make comments against Newcastle and Rafa Benitez, claiming he ‘loves’ the club and would be open to returning once his loan ends with Serie A side Benevento.
The Moroccan’s unsuccessful spell on Tyneside was temporarily ended on deadline day, with the left-back securing a loan move to Italian side Benevento.
Since then, an interview has been released in Italy, quoting the 25-year old saying he was ‘disappointed’ by Benitez’s lack of explanation as to why he was not played, suggesting the Spaniard had failed to deliver on his promises last summer.
Lazaar has since set the record straight in an interview with The Chronicle, stating his words were twisted and that he has nothing against Benitez or Newcastle United – suggesting he could yet return to salvage his career on Tyneside:
“I did an interview with somebody in Italy.
“The report came out badly. I said nothing bad, but things got changed in the article. It wasn’t good.
“People who know me should know what I said and think.
“I would never say anything bad against Rafa Benitez or Newcastle United. I love Newcastle.
“I signed a contract at Newcastle for five years. They are a big team, and maybe I will come back.”
The former Palermo full-back then discussed his frustrations last season, admitting that he was not offered the chance to impress Benitez:
“It was difficult for me because for one year I hardly played. I did not get a run of games, not even four or five matches in a row and that made me difficult to find a team.
“Everybody wondered why I didn’t play last year and what had happened or was there a problem.
“What I’d say was I feel I didn’t get a chance – I played 37 minutes of football in the whole season in the Championship.
“It was bad for me because people thought I was injured. I didn’t understand it.
“I just want to play football and I feel I have a lot to offer.
“I am more humble because of the experience.I work hard every day at training, and in the gym at my home.
“I want to get back to the perfect level and end 2017 on a high.”
Now back in Italy, Lazaar hopes to make an impression at Benevento in Serie A – a league he knows well having spent four years at Palermo prior to his move to the North East:
“They wanted me here (Benevento) so much.
“They have made me feel very important here and in Italy and in Serie A everybody knows what quality I have.
“I played here with Palermo and I now feel like I am considered an important first team player.
“It’s good for me because I want to get back to the level of form I was in before.
“A lot of big teams wanted me before I went to Newcastle, but I chose there (Newcastle).
“Then you have a year when you don’t play and you have to find a team.”
Benevento are believed to have an option to sign Lazaar on a permanent deal for £3.5m, suggesting he may have no option to return to Tyneside after all.
We shall see, but given Benitez’s reluctance to play him over the past 12 months, it would be some turnaround if he were to resurrect his career at the club.
Here’s him in action on his Benevento last weekend: