Not exactly one of Rafa Benitez’ best signings, Achraf Lazaar is searching for a new club.
After three seasons with Palermo in Serie and Serie B, the left-back moved to Newcastle for £3m in August 2016, only a few days before the transfer window ended.
A lack of early action left fans believing that Rafa Benitez was simply giving Achraf Lazaar time to adjust to English football but as time went on…
The left-back ended up not starting a single Championship match and in total only played 36 minutes of second tier football in four brief substitute appearances for Newcastle.
It didn’t take a genius to work out that Rafa was keen to ditch the player and Lazaar is one of those totally sidelined by the manager, as he hopes to help ‘encourage’ them to leave.
The Moroccan international wasn’t given a squad number when they were allocated 10 days ago and then on Thursday, along with Colback, Hanley, Haidara, Riviere and Krul, Achraf Lazaar wasn’t even included in the public training session at St James Park.
Just to further emphasise how little he values them, Rafa Benitez preferred to have no defenders at all on his bench against Huddersfield yesterday, rather than including any of Haidara, Hanley, or Lazaar.
As it happens, Rafa Benitez even gave Achraf Lazaar the weekend off, allowing the 25 year old to travel to Italy and try to land a new club.
On Saturday, Lazaar even posted (see below) a photo and message on social media, the image showed him standing in Milan with his two agents and said they were ‘working’ to get him a new club.
There has now been an update on the situation, with Corriere dello Sport reporting that Achraf Lazaar has been forced to return to Tyneside because he hadn’t attracted a single ‘concrete offer’.
The Italian newspaper believe he could still move in these final 10 days but I would be surprised if any Italian club will commit to a transfer fee and permanent deal, considering the wages Lazaar will be on at Newcastle – compared to the level of Serie A (or Serie B…) club that might take him.
It had been claimed that Newcastle were hoping Genoa might be interested in taking Lazaar as a down payment on Uruguayan attacking midfielder Diego Laxalt, who Newcastle were linked with last month. However, Genoa haven’t shown any inclination towards a double deal.
Laxalt played the full 90 minutes on Sunday night as Genoa drew 0-0 at Sassaolo.
With so many players unwanted by Rafa Benitez, including the likes of Mitrovic and de Jong as well, you just wonder how many he can shift in this short space of time – with each passing day as well, it would be far more likely to be loan deals rather than permanent transfers, which wouldn’t then greatly help him in funding his own targets.