The Spaniard was responsible for bringing the Moroccan international to St James’ Park in 2016, but proceeded to largely ignore him, something which has continued under new head coach Steve Bruce.
Now, Lazaar has spoken out: “I signed because Newcastle is a big club and I wanted to fight for the black-and-white shirt,” he told The Chronicle. “So, yeah, I was disappointed. It was funny because everybody kept asking me: ‘What is going on?’ I came here and worked hard, but I got no minutes.
“I put it down to gaining experience. Rafa Benitez is a big manager and he choose to do that. He called me up and asked me to come to Newcastle, but after that he didn’t play me.”
In some ways Lazaar is absolutely correct, because Benitez did bring him to Newcastle and then never played him really. However, he’s got to look in the mirror as well, at the end of the day. He says he worked hard in training and of course he did, but he obviously wasn’t doing so well that Benitez felt he HAD to play him. At the end of the day, if he was really excelling and showing what a top player he is, then Benitez would have played him. There’s a reason that he’s just sealed a loan to the Italian second division. Benitez is one of the finest managers in world football, so if he felt that Lazaar wasn’t for him then you have to trust his judgement. And while it was the Spaniard who was in charge when Lazaar was brought to the club, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was his decision to sign him. It certainly wouldn’t have been the first time that Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley went over the manager’s head to bring a player in…