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.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    It gets worse by the day,
    can anyone see a mad rush to sign Nufc players as the clock runs down in this window
    we have a full team of misfits costing millions a year we can`t shift for love or NO money
    Oh dear, what a mess

    • StevieB

      I must be missing something here with this one , how can he be deemed “that” bad , didn’t Benitez talk him out of signing for fiorentina to come and join us ?? It looks like he has an absolute gem of a left foot apparently then Benitez gets him here and doesn’t give him a run in the team !!!
      Seems strange that we’ve struggled with the left back position since Benitez came and he hasn’t given Lazaar a chance …..very odd

      • Jezza

        I also wonder what happened with Jesus Gamez. He looked excellent in the pre season friendly at Doncaster last summer.

        • Gamez was bought for cover and for his experience and because he was free.

      • HarryHype59

        Rafa also cold shouldered Mbemba, who played really well yesterday and is a better player than Captain Calamity!

        • Geordiegiants

          My guess is he must of signed some of these players on perceived ability, but he probably doesn’t like their character when faced with them daily.

    • Jezza

      Nobody is even interested in signing our best players never mind our outcasts. That is what Ashley has reduced our club to.

      • Geordiegiants

        I don’t think we have one player that couldn’t be replaced in our whole squad.

    • HarryHype59

      We have a fatburg of unwanted toxic assets blocking the signing of new players. The chump who gave these ridiculous contracts is bizarrely still in a job at the club.

  • HarryHype59

    Hang on weren’t Lazaar and Hanley brought in a year ago by the very man who know wants them gone?

    • glassjawsh-got-banned

      They were brought as Championship level cover. Then ultimately weren’t needed since no one was injured or inconsistent in those positions. Now they need to move on. Not sure how you can blame Rafa for filling a need like that. If you blame anyone it should be Charnley for putting them on contracts that make it impossible for them to be sold.

      • HarryHype59

        Fair point on Charnley. Rafa does appear to prefer quantity over quality! We paid 6m for Hanley which seems an awful lot for a championship squad defender.

        • glassjawsh-got-banned

          The Hanley fee is a headscratcher. Especially when you consider how much more we paid for him than Murphy (or Hayden or Yedlin or Clark!).

          • Geordiegiants

            What’s most bizarre is we chased him, and kept upping the money until we got him, I don’t think the Blackburn fans were happy as he was their best player. It’s a strange one all the same.

        • Oooh bobbi fleckman

          I recall you saying that you didn’t rate Hanley when we bought him, hang on, no, you didn’t.

          • HarryHype59

            Actually, I wasn’t using the Mag when he signed! I have said in previous post we over paid.

          • HarryHype59

            Bobbi has a delusion that he has some sort of superior insight and understanding! It is all very laughable really. BTW the season hasn’t started too well. Are you worried about that tenner?

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            The point being that it’s all very easy to comment on deals that didn’t work out too well in hindsight when you were all in favour of them at the time. Perhaps Rafa should quit over Hanley?

          • HarryHype59

            I thought six million was a lot for a championship defender. The problem is that there are another nine players Rafa wants gone, who are difficult to shift because of high wages and long term contracts. The scouting and recruitment problem at our club has been flawed for years!

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            Slight exaggeration, 6m was the price others were paying and Rafa rated him higher than Mbemba and Lacelles. He got less money than Clark.

            Had the club not bought Hanley on account of fee and wages, what do you think the readership here would say?

          • HarryHype59

            Who else was willing to pay £6mforHanleym Mbemba is a far better player. I cannot understand why Rafa doesn’t play him more!

          • Oooh bobbi fleckman

            I agree, Mbemba is a nice quick centre half. It goes wrong for him when he’s up against a big lad and perhaps that’s why Rafa didn’t like to use him in the Championship.

            As for Hanley, I think the agent may have done a good job of creating some psuedo demand for him and we panicked and paid the money.

            On the flip side, I ask, what would the fans on here have said if we hadn’t bought him on account of asking price and wages?

    • Natturner26

      If Rafa stays it will be the same thing in two years with Joselu and Manquillo.

  • Rafa wants to work with able footballers, he sees does players as nothing more to gain/unwilling to improve. They were all brought as cover or first team choice(in the case of Hanley), but just never settled/showed potential. Instead of keeping them and giving them more chances, Rafa prefers to get real able players.
    Merino didn’t have a good game yesterday, but there were times he was excellent. He clearly lacked fitness and felt a bit rusty, but if takes the challenge on to compete with Shelvey it would be great for the team.
    We need more ball-playing midfielders who can either pass good or shoot(because Hayden is a great enforcer, but can’t pass or shoot)

  • Mal

    It’s an embarrassingly long list of players that we are trying to get rid of. I make it at least 10. Clubs know we are desperate and will wait until the last minute when they will be able to buy at low prices or get loan deals which we will have to significantly subsidise. Players like Hanley (still 4 years left on his contract), Saivet (4 years), Lazaar (3 years), Rivière (3 years) and Colback (2 years) will be on far higher wages than anyone else is prepared to pay. Money coming in for transfer fees isn’t going to amount to much. MA has to release further funds now to get us some quality in, either purchases or loans, if he wants to protect our PL status and the value of his investment.