Achraf Lazaar has claimed staying at Newcastle United this summer ‘would have been like finishing my career’, as he opened up on the reasons behind his decision to join Italian second-tier side Cosenza Calcio on loan in an interview with TuttoMercatoWEB.
The 27-year-old left-back joined the Magpies in 2016, but only managed to earn ten first-team appearances with St. James’ Park natives between loan spells with Benevento Calcio and Sheffield Wednesday (TransferMarkt).
Lazaar’s struggles to establish himself in Rafa Benitez’s plans last season saw that the Moroccan joined Steve Bruce at Sheffield Wednesday in January, but life on loan at Hillsborough proved challenging for the 17-cap international, as he made just four outings across all competitions.
Their prior time together in the Championship failed to increase Lazaar’s position at Newcastle following Bruce’s arrival as Benitez’s successor, either, as the defender was overlooked when the Toon boss named his 25-man Premier League squad.
Lazaar’s situation in the North East made it clear to him that he could no longer stay at Newcastle with no regular first-team football on offer, and ultimately joined Serie B outfit Cosenza on a season-long deal.
Moving to Cosenza did represent a downgrade in terms of competitiveness for Lazaar, but it was a decision he made to get his career back on track.
“Staying at Newcastle would have been like finishing my football career, I would have thought only of money,” Lazaar told TuttoMercatoWEB. “And my parents taught me that a career comes before money, football is my life.
“I want to come back as big as before going to Newcastle. My agent Roberto De Fanti, as well as my mental coach Roberto Civitarese, was very close to me in a delicate period and together we chose Cosenza.
“In Palermo, I was one of the leaders, at Newcastle I ended up on the bench: it’s not easy, especially mentally. Last year, I played six months at Sheffield, I wanted to go back to Italy, at home. So I chose Cosenza. I want to take back the positive things from my past.”
Lazaar may want to take back the positive aspects of his career, but the Moroccan is struggling to get in the Cosenza side at present, with just two outings so far this season and has been omitted from Piero Braglia’s matchday squad three times in the league already (TransferMarkt).
If the 27-year-old cannot establish himself at the Serie B outfit, the future will be very bleak for Lazaar when his loan terms reach their end, as he will return to Newcastle with a year remaining on his contract with next to no hope of claiming a place in the Toon’s first-team plans.
Newcastle’s hopes of landing a meaningful transfer fee for the defender will also be questionable next summer, should they try to cash in on the left-back signed for £2.5million (Chronicle).
Newcastle fans, where does Lazaar rank among your side’s worst transfers of the past three years? Let us know in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more Newcastle notifications!