Achraf Lazaar has given an intriguing in-depth interview this week, opening up about his situation at the club after being banished to the reserves by Rafa Benitez – claiming that ‘a lot’ of his team-mates feel he should be in the first-team.
The 26-year-old has played just 10 times for the club since Benitez signed him from Palermo in the summer of 2016, with him being sent out on loan last season to struggling Italian side Benevento.
Since he’s returned, Rafa has made him train in the reserves, with his last appearance for the club coming in our Carabo Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest over a year ago.
He’s featured a few times in the U-23’s over the last few weeks – bagging three assists in two appearances – and he’s refusing to give up on his Newcastle career; even if Benitez currently seems uninterested in giving him his shot.
Here’s what he’s had to say today:
“It’s not a good moment for me, I arrived at Newcastle to show what I can do and to improve but things are going differently. Honestly, I am very sorry but I accept this situation, I am training with the second team and I play in the reserve championship.
“I delivered three assists in the last two games and the coach and his staff is really helping me. They know it’s not an easy situation for me and they are trying to help me. Sometimes I train on my own after the end of training sessions to improve my level, that’s the only thing I can do if I want to improve because I am not playing Premier League games.
“I spoke with my team-mates, they say he (Rafa) is fine. I am sorry the team is not doing well especially because a lot of my team-mates would like me to be part of the team. I usually speak with them but the only thing I can do is accept the situation. If this is his choice I can only respect it.
“He speaks with my agent Roberto De Fanti. I had other expectations when I arrived here but, as I said, Benitez has made a decision and I respect it. Now it’s up to me. I have to convince him. Being out from a manager’s plans is a new situation for me. Other managers used to tell me that I have the qualities to play in a big team, but with Benitez is not the same. I will work as hard as I can, doing my best to return to the team. I don’t know what his plans are. Whatever is the reason I respect it because he is a great manager and I can only learn from him.
“There is still time. My agent knows what he has to tell the club. Personally, I will work hard, every day, to be ready for everything. Whenever the manager will need me, I will have to be ready. I am fit, and I have been training hard to have even just half chance to prove Benitez that he was wrong.”
Consider Rafa signed him and we’re currently so short on left-backs, it really does show how little Benitez must think of him at the moment; with him still nowhere to be seen despite Paul Dummett’s recent injury.
Despite being fully prepared for Rafa’s call if he ever decides to bring him back into his first-team plans, he then admitted that he’d be ready to join Genoa if they came calling in January – with his move to the Serie A side failing at the 11th hour over the summer:
“I’d have loved to play for Genoa because it’s a great club with incredible players. I know this club very well but [Genoa President] Preziosi changed his mind. I don’t know the reason for his choice.
“It is the president who spends the money and I can only thank him for the interest, I respect his decision and this doesn’t change the opinion that I have about the club.
“If they’d call me again, I’d be ready to join the club.”
Can you see any way back for him?