Rafa Benitez identifies ‘weak position’ at Newcastle

Achraf Lazaar
Achraf Lazaar

Rafa Benitez has given Achraf Lazaar a glimmer of hope at Newcastle United.

The defender hasn’t played a first-team game for the club in more than a year.

Lazaar, named in Newcastle’s 25-man Premier League squad, is training with the Under-23s after a proposed move to Genoa broke down at the 11th hour last month.

However, United manager Benitez could yet recall him to the first-team squad.

Benitez doesn’t have back-up to Paul Dummett at left-back, which he feels is a “weak position” for the club.

“He will stay with the Under-23s – we’ll see how he gets on,” said Benitez.

We cannot say ‘no’ and we cannot say ‘yes’ – we have to see how he’s doing and then we decide.

Rafa Benitez

“We cannot say ‘no’ and we cannot say ‘yes’ – we have to see how he’s doing and then we decide.

“The reason we put him in the squad is because we know it’s a weak position, and we have no back-up, so it’s just in case.”

Lazaar, signed from Palermo two years ago, was loaned to Italian club Benevento last season.

However, Lazaar fell out of favour with manager Marco Baroni as the club fought to stay in Serie A and was left out of his successor Roberto De Zerbi’s squad for the second half of the campaign.

Lazaar, under contract at Newcastle for another three years, hasn’t played a senior competitive game since November last year.

The 26-year-old missed out on a place in Morocco’s Cup squad for the summer’s World Cup finals because of a lack of playing time.

Lazaar only made a handful of appearances for the club in his first season at St James’s Park following his £2million move from Palermo.

Benitez, unhappy with Lazaar’s conduct at the club, froze him out last year and told him to find a new club.