With such a big squad and so many new signings, not all the summer arrivals at St James Park were going to have it easy.
However, despite being left on the sidelines for almost the entire season so far, Achraf Lazaar is remarkably upbeat.
When he signed, the Moroccan left-back looked as though he was going to transform that problem position, fans having seen online his pace, dribbling skills and shooting ability.
However, Rafa has instead kept with the steady but limited Paul Dummett and Newcastle supporters are still yet to see really what Achraf Lazaar is all about.
The former Palermo defender has been restricted to playing against Wolves in the League Cup and six minutes as a sub in the Championship win over Brentford.
Despite this, Achraf Lazaar insists ‘I am very happy here’ and ”It was an extraordinary moment for me to sign for Newcastle’.
The widespread assumption amongst Newcastle fans is that Rafa Benitez doesn’t think that Lazaar is ready for the demands of English football, even in the Championship.
As the season moves on it must be getting increasingly tough for a player not to feature who was first choice in Serie A for the past two seasons.
This international break especially must have been difficult. As despite not playing for Newcastle, Lazaar had still been named in the last two Morocco squads, appearing as a sub in a friendly against Albania, then last month playing all but the final three minutes of a World Cup qualifier against Gabon.
This time though he was left out of the Morocco squad altogether as they drew 0-0 with group leaders Ivory Coast, Achraf Lazaar hadn’t played a single minute of football for Newcastle since that game against Gabon, despite being named as a sub for four Championship matches, including the wins over Preston and Cardiff just before the international break.
Lazaar is clearly looking longer term with Newcastle and says he hopes to ‘give the fans 100% and show how good I am’. The 24 year old going on to say that he sees Newcastle as one of the top seven clubs in England.
It is easy to forget just what Newcastle United’s natural place should be and what an attraction the club can still be, especially to players from abroad.
Whilst Achraf Lazaar will no doubt have got a few more quid when moving to Newcastle, when he describes Palermo having ‘a big fan base’ you can see where the real attraction is .
Despite being in the second tier of English football, Newcastle are averaging over fifty thousand at St James Park. Compared to this, Palermo are averaging only 14,967 at the top level of Italian football.
In fact, Newcastle get bigger crowds than every club in Italy at the moment, Inter Milan are averaging 46,686 and then all the other clubs are under forty thousand.
Nice to see the player keeping his chin up despite the inaction and hopefully we will see him translating his exciting potential into English football very soon.
Achraf Lazaar speaking to the Chronicle:
“When the manager spoke to me the first time, he said he wanted guys who wanted to win and stay in a good position in the league.
“Once a manager like Rafa Benitez has called you, there is only one choice. He called me and I respected that so much. He told me he knew all about me from Italy and I came straight away.
“I will show my quality and I would love to make my name in England with this team. It was an extraordinary moment for me to sign for Newcastle.
“I am very happy here. This is a very good team with an excellent manager.
“We are playing good games and there is a very good group of guys. At the training ground, we have a good atmosphere.
“For me, this is one of the most important clubs in England, in the top seven in the country. That’s why I came here.
“I will give my all for this team and I hope to give the fans 100% and show how good I am.
“It was always my dream to play in England. Newcastle are a big team and have a big name.
“Palermo have a big fan base and they are very much behind the team too. If you don’t win the fans don’t like you, if you win they love you.
“The fans come to the training ground every day. They stay near the team. As I say when you win you are a prince of the city, if you lose it’s hard.
“They have the Ultras in Palermo. They thanked me for everything I had done for the club before I came to Newcastle and I thanked them for all their support.”