Exclusive: Lazaar explains Benitez snub, opens door to Serie A return

10 October at 15:59
Achraf Lazaar came close to joining Genoa in the summer transfer window but his return to Serie A collapsed and the Morocco International has now been relegated to the Magpies’ reserve team. The former Palermo star exclusively talks with Calciomercato.com:

How are you doing at Newcastle, what can you tell us about this first part of the season?
“It’s not a good moment for me, I arrived at Newcastle to show what I can do and to improve but things are going differently. Honestly, I am very sorry but I accept this situation, I am training with the second team and I play in the reserve championship. I delivered three assists in the last two games and the coach and his staff is really helping me. They know it’s not an easy situation for me and they are trying to help me. Sometimes I train on my own after the end of training sessions to improve my level, that’s the only thing I can do if I want to improve because I am not playing Premier League games.”

How is your relationship with Benitez?
“I spoke with my team-mates, they say he is fine. I am sorry the team is not doing well especially because a lot of my team-mates would like me to be part of the team. I usually speak with them but the only thing I can do is accept the situation. If this is his choice I can only respect it.”

Did he explain his decision?
“Not with me. He speaks with my agent Roberto De Fanti. I had other expectations when I arrived here but, as I said, Benitez has made a decision and I respect it. Now it’s up to me. I have to convince him. Being out from a manager’s plans is a new situation for me. Other managers used to tell me that I have the qualities to play in a big team, but with Benitez is not the same. I will work as hard as I can, doing my best to return to the team.”

Why do you think Benitez is snubbing you?
“I don’t know what his plans are. Whatever is the reason I respect it because he is a great manager and I can only learn from him.”

What’s your target? Do you want to play for the first team of Newcastle or leave in January?
“There is still time. My agent knows what he has to tell the club. Personally, I will work hard, every day, to be ready for everything. Whenever the manager will need me, I will have to be ready. I am fit, and I have been training hard to have even just half chance to prove Benitez that he was wrong.”

What about your relationship with Newcastle fans?
“Lot of them write to me on social media to tell me that they’d want to see me on the pitch, with the first team. It’s something that I really appreciate because I didn’t have much time to show my skills here in Newcastle. They haven’t seen the real Lazaar yet, but they haven’t forgotten about me.”

What happens with Morocco now?
“The manager says he is sorry because I don’t deserve this situation. My team-mates, who are like brothers for me, are supporting me and are also sorry for what I am going through. I speak with many of them. Especially Benatia, he is always ready to support me when things are not going well. We are close friends. The coach can’t give me a call-up if I don’t play with my club but I hope to be back soon.”

One last thing: your move to Genoa seemed done, why wasn’t it completed?
“I’d have loved to play for Genoa because it’s a great club with incredible players. I know this club very well but [Genoa President] Preziosi changed his mind. I don’t know the reason for his choice. It is the president who spends the money and I can only thank him for the interest, I respect his decision and this doesn’t change the opinion that I have about the club. If they’d call me again, I’d be ready to join the club.”
Emanuele Giulianelli @EmaGiulianelli
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