Big claims from the Moroccan, who says the Spaniard “really wanted” to sign him and still had “great ambitions” for the club the summer we went down – only for him to barely feature under Benitez during the three years that followed.
This comes from the Moroccan’s latest interview on his difficult time on Tyneside, admitting the move “wasn’t the right choice” and a costly mistake given Serie A side Fiorentina also wanted him at the time.
Here’s what he’s had to say to TuttoB.com today:
“In the summer of 2016, Fiorentina wanted me, but my dream as a kid was to play in England. It was Rafa Benitez, who had arrived from Real Madrid.
“He really wanted me and his pressing convinced me.
“There were great ambitions: there was talk of building a squad to win the Premier League in the space of a few years.
“It’s too bad he played me very little. In hindsight, Newcastle wasn’t the right choice, unfortunately”.
This might seem far fetched, especially when it’s hard for mid-table clubs to break into the top 6 these days, never mind win the title, but it highlights just how ambitious Benitez really was – and shows why he was never going to settle for an owner who was happy just to see us stay up every year.
As for Lazaar himself, he’s currently out on loan with Serie B side Cosenza and seem highly likely to be moved on this summer.
His lack of game time under Benitez seems odd and slightly unfair given he appears to have been sold the dream by Rafa back in 2016, but he wasn’t the only 2016 signing who barely featured in the end (Sels, Gamez, Lazaar to name a few!).
Bruce actually brought him to Sheffield Wednesday on loan last year, but doesn’t seem anywhere near his first-team plans on Tyneside – despite the fact we had a left-back crisis before Danny Rose’s arrival.
Hopefully he moves on for good this summer, for everyone’s sake.