Newcastle loan star Achraf Lazaar has claimed that an interview he did in Italy at the weekend, got a little bit lost in translation.
The defender was speaking ahead of his debut on Sunday for Benevento and in the interview said coming to the Serie A club was ‘the end of a nightmare’.
Then Achraf Lazaar was quoted as saying ‘At Newcastle I never played and over a whole year Rafa Benitez never gave me an explanation’.
Rounding it off with: “‘I was about to sign for Fiorentina when he called me and told me to go to him. They were just words, what a disappointment’.
Now though, Lazaar has alleged ‘the report came out badly’ and claims ‘I said nothing bad but things got changed in the article’.
Speaking to the Chronicle he does though go on to basically repeat what was mostly in the interview that appeared in Italy, saying that after playing only 37 minutes of Championship football and making no league starts ‘I didn’t understand it’ and ‘I feel I didn’t get a chance’.
Only Achraf Lazaar himself will know what he actually did say, but there again, when he is back in Italy and more relaxed, speaking in a language (the player lived in Italy from the age of 11) he is comfortable with – it is probably easy to get carried away with it and say more than you intended.
What he was claimed to have said isn’t that shocking anyway and if you don’t get a single start in the second tier for your new club, after having played in Serie A, then there would be something really strange if a player did not get angry about a totally wasted year of his career.
Having to totally rebuild the squad for the Championship, there were always going to be one or two signings that didn’t work out, such as Lazaar and Sels, but with the likes of Ritchie, Clark, Gayle, Hayden, Yedlin, Murphy and Atsu proving great signings, Rafa Benitez did an incredible job.
Bottom line is that Rafa realised quickly that Lazaar wasn’t up to the job and didn’t play him – now he needs to find a permanent home elsewhere.
Hopefully this Benevento move will work out but they are already rock bottom of Serie A, the only team with no points, having lost 1-0 to Torino with Achraf Lazaar playing the final 23 minutes.
It could be a struggle for the left-back to impress this season, although by the looks of it he will see plenty of action across the season as Benevento are set to be defending a fair bit.
Achraf Lazaar speaking to The Chronicle – 14 September 2017:
“I did an interview with somebody in Italy. The report came out badly.
“I said nothing bad, but things got changed in the article, it wasn’t good.
“People who know me should know what I said and think, I would never say anything bad against Rafa Benitez or Newcastle United, I love Newcastle.
“I signed a contract at Newcastle for five years – they are a big team and maybe I will come back.”
“It was difficult for me because for one year I hardly played, I did not get a run of games, not even four or five matches in a row and that made me difficult to find a team.
“Everybody wondered why I didn’t play last year and what had happened or was there a problem, what I’d say was I feel I didn’t get a chance.
“I played 37 minutes of football in the whole season in the Championship, it was bad for me because people thought I was injured.
“I didn’t understand it.
“They wanted me here (Benevento) so much.
“They have made me feel very important here and in Italy and in Serie A everybody knows what quality I have – I played here with Palermo and I now feel like I am considered an important first team player.
“A lot of big teams wanted me before I went to Newcastle, but I chose there…then you have a year when you don’t play and you have to find a team.”
The Mag – 10 September 2017:
Achraf Lazaar speaking to reporters ahead of Benevento v Torino, as reported by Football Italia:
“My signing for Benevento is the end of a nightmare.
“At Newcastle I never played and over a whole year Rafa Benitez never gave me an explanation.
“All he said was that I was a player more suited to Serie A or the Premier League, rather than the Championship.
“It’s a shame because he really wanted me.
“I was about to sign for Fiorentina when he called me and told me to go to him.
“They were just words, what a disappointment.”
Achraf Lazaar – 14 September 2016:
“Playing in England has always been my dream, it is the right season for me.
“In Sicily too many changes, so many situations and so Benitez’ call…to receive the call from an important coach like Benitez who spoke to me in a truly humble way was something unexpected and important. He has won so much, is one of the strongest in the world. I could only say ‘yes sir. I am here’.
“I saw the facilities, the environment is very different from Italy. The is an amazing organisation, a beautiful stadium, fantastic fans. Here in serie B (Championship) there are fifty two thousand subscribers (fans), a fantastic reality.
“They treated me very well from day one, here as a player you feel one hundred percent. Here you can grow and get where you couldn’t even imagine. No limits.
“I had to choose between Newcastle and Fiorentina. Fiorentina are a great club, but my head and my family have told me, ‘Go to Newcastle’.
“England has always been my dream, then Newcastle will go in the Premier League and it has everything to be great. “
“I build my future thinking of the present, you never know what can happen – maybe I’ll end my career at Newcastle or elsewhere.
“Today I want to give my all for Newcastle, who believed in me and who have shown that with actions, not words.”