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Newcastle United and Achraf Lazaar Agree to ‘Mutually Part Ways’

After spending over 4 years with the club, Achraf Lazaar’s time as a full-time influencer and part-time footballer at Newcastle is coming to an end.

Newcastle United Players Return to Pre-Season Training
This is probably one of the coolest pictures of any Newcastle player... like ever
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Newcastle United have announced the departure of left-back Achraf Lazaar after both parties mutually agreed to terminate his contract.

Lazaar joined in 2016 from Italian side Palermo as a cheap signing with decent potential. Like many of Newcastle’s left-back targets, Lazaar was brought in to be an attack-minded defender and was meant to be an upgrade from Paul Dummett, who of course is not known for his attacking prowess.

Lazaar ended up only making 9 appearances in 4 and half seasons with Newcastle. Rafa Benitez, who signed Lazaar, tried his best to get Lazaar going at Newcastle but ultimately was not successful. Lazaar could not even beat out Matt Ritchie, a player who had to learn the left-wing back position due to Lazaar underperforming there. Benitez sent Lazaar out on loan to Benevento, Sheffield Wednesday, and Cosenza, none of which were successes for the Morrocan. Lazaar failed to make more than 10 appearances at any one of those clubs, all of which are significantly below the level of the Premier League

Ultimately Lazaar proved to be one of the worst Rafa Benitez signings at Newcastle, and if it was not for his low price he would probably be one of Rafa’s worst ever signings. Lazaar found himself a reserve team regular for Newcastle, not being named to the club squad for the past few seasons. Lazaar had been close to leaving the club on multiple occasions, but his Premier League level wages were too much for the clubs that were realistically interested in him.

His reluctance to leave Newcastle often made him a scapegoat for when Newcastle could not get signings over the line, or flat out refused to make any signings due to “having a lot of contracts on the books”. However, that talk has since simmered as of recent, because in the past 3 seasons Newcastle have spent a lot of money and committed a lot of money to players in the squad.

Newcastle United Players Return to First Team Training
It simply is not air that we have been robbed of two of the swaggiest players in Newcastle history
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Lazaar’s future is unknown. There were some links that maybe AC Milan was interested in signing Lazaar on a free and that was a motivating factor behind Lazaar wanting to finally terminate his contract with Newcastle.

After all, he was making a decent amount of money for only showing up to u23 training sessions and not having the stress of leaving his family for away trips during the season. However, it is hard to imagine that there is any truth to that rumor considering Lazaar has struggled at the Serie A and Serie B level the past few seasons. Unlike DeAndre Yedlin who typically looked decent in his appearances for the club and had some sort of value, Lazaar has looked truly awful everywhere he has been the past few seasons. Having recently struggled in Serie B it is hard to see how any top 5 league side would be remotely interested in bringing him in. The likely scenario is that Lzaar ends up back in the Italian second division, playing for a mid or lower-table side in a less competitive European league like the Swedish or Belgian Leagues. There is also the potential that Lazaar could make the trip to America and play in MLS. Lazaar being almost 30 does not really help his chances of remaining in a top 5 league, but it seems as if the player has accepted that and wants to be able to play football competitively again.

Similar to Yedlin, the fan reaction to Lazaar’s exit has generally not been negative. Most fans, myself included, love to poke fun at Lazaar’s influencer-like Instagram, but honestly have no actual grudge with Lazaar. He was one of many of Rafa’s cheap experiments where he would try to find some hidden gem that no other team was seemingly interested in signing. Lazaar joins a list of flops like Jesus Gamez and Henri Saivet ho have suffered similar fates, but Newcastle fans forgive those signings because players like Fabian Schar, Javier Manquillo, and Martin Dubravka have been proof of the good that can come with taking a risk on a “hidden gem”.

Achraf has been a good sport, interacted with fans well, and certainly was not hated at Newcastle. He even made a funny appearance in a fan driven segment for the club a few seasons back.

We of course wish Achraf the best of luck as he continues his footballing journey. We will be following from a distance, liking and commenting on every one of his Instagram posts.