Newcastle United's Achraf Lazaar has no plans to return to Italy on a permanent basis despite enjoying an encouraging loan spell in Serie A this term.

The 25-year-old moved to St James' Park in the summer of 2016, signing a five-year deal after spells at Varese and Palermo.

But Lazaar failed to make an impression under Rafael Benitez, making just nine appearances in all competitions for Newcastle while failing to win a single start in the Championship.

The lack of activity saw the left-sided player dropped by his national team and forced to seek refuge back in Italy with newly-promoted side Benevento, though he did start the Carabao Cup extra-time defeat to Nottingham Forest in August before his deadline day exit.

Though the Stadio Ciro Vigorito side are the whipping boys of the Italian top flight having lost 15 of their 16 league games, Lazaar has re-established himself with nine outings this season which has included a goal against Lazio.

Having flourished exclusively in Italy during his career it would not be a total surprise to see Lazaar remain in the country beyond the end of the campaign, but the player has revealed no agreement is in place and he will return to Newcastle.

"No options, nothing at all," he told Tribal Football. "Furthermore I can tell you one thing: Newcastle didn't even want me to go away on loan. It was me, I let them understand that I really cared about playing more minutes.

"The most important thing, in my opinion, for a football player is playing the more minutes possible, in order to have the right concentration, the right focus that you have on the matches. You can even train a lot, you can train a lot on the extras and I do it very much, but the matches are different.

"And that was what I missed very much: this is why I decided to come back on loan to Italy. I wanted to find again the Lazaar I was, in the league where I was born, in order to come back to Newcastle much stronger than before."

Lazaar's hopes that he could yet figure as a central pillar in Newcastle's first team is far from fanciful with the club woefully short of players on the left flank, particularly at full-back.

Paul Dummett and Massadio Hairdara have played just once this season between them due to injury, leaving summer arrival Javier Manquillo as the only genuine option in that position.

And Benitez appears to be keen on Lazaar playing a role in Newcastle's future having remained in contact with the defender throughout this season.

"I have a wonderful relationship with the guys at Newcastle, we have a group on WhatsApp, I follow them and they follow me because I really feel like one of them," he added. "Besides, I have a five years contract with them!

"When you sign a contract for five years with a club, you feel like a son and they become your family. I receive many messages for every match I play from Rafa Benitez and it really give me pleasure. I appreciate him so much, he is a great manager who has won a lot.

"I haven't had so much space with him last year, but I just needed to adapt myself. Now I need to put minutes in my legs, to play and to find what I was lacking the last year."

Achraf Lazaar
Lazaar is back in Italy in an effort to revitalising his career - but remains committed to returning to Newcastle. Getty Images