By Will Butcher
Achraf Lazaar has revealed that he turned down a move to Serie A giants Fiorentina this summer, in order to join Newcastle.
The left-back was high on the shortlists of many clubs this summer, with Premier League side West Ham also credited with an interest before signing Olympiakos left-back Arthur Masuaku.
Speaking to the Evening Chronicle, the Morocco international revealed that as soon as manager Rafa Benitez called, he had to accept an offer on Tyneside.
“I had to choose between Newcastle and Fiorentina,” Lazaar told the Evening Chronicle. “Fiorentina are a great club, but my head and my family have told me, ‘Go to Newcastle’.
“England has always been my dream, then Newcastle will go in the Premier League and it has everything to be great.”
The 24-year-old signed from Palermo on a five-year deal for an undisclosed fee, and is one of 12 new recruits at St. James’ Park this season but has yet to make his Toon debut after two unused substitute appearances.
Lazaar came through the youth set-up at Italian club Varese and spent two years in the first team before joining Palermo in January 2014, initially on loan.
He made a total of 76 appearances for Palermo, scoring three goals during his time at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.
The 14-time capped international was integral to Palermo’s Serie A campaign last season, making 30 domestic appearances for Davide Ballardini’s side.
In other Newcastle news, another new signing posted this Twitter message after the Magpies demolished QPR 6-0.