Throughout this article we take a detailed look at our on-loan Austrian winger, Valentino Lazaro.
The attacker is currently on loan from Inter Milan and has shown flashes of promise in his very short career in black and white. Making just 5 appearances the Austrian has contributed with a goal, a red card, some nice attacking play, and some questionable defensive decisions.
Lazaro was born in Graz, a busy city in the South of Austria. He was surrounded by a variety of cultures as he quickly matured into the charismatic man we see today.
His father has Angolan heritage, while his mother is Greek. Growing up, Lazaro had friends from Turkey and Germany allowing him to enjoy a variety of cultures and learn many languages. The intelligent attacker is fluent in German, English and Italian, while also holding a good knowledge of French Spanish and Greek.
He matured very quickly, as at the age of just 13 he leapt into adult life, moving away from home to join Red Bull Salzburg. The youngster was not phased when training with more experienced players and after 3 years with the club broke the record for the youngest appearance in the Austrian Bundesliga at just 16 years and 224 days.
Lining up alongside Sadio Mane, Valentino Lazaro immediately earned rave reviews. He played the game with such calmness and maturity beyond his years, but had the raw confidence of a player suited to his age. He was not phased being the youngest member of the first team as he earned a starting place in the biggest game of the season against Austria Wien, while still at school.
The Austrian stayed at RB Salzburg for a total of 6 years racking up 87 appearances and scoring 11 goals. He had a brief spell in the Austrian second division with Salzburg’s feeder club, FC Liefering in 2013, but spent the rest of his time with the first team squad.
It was in 2017 that Lazaro made the move to Germany, to join up with Hertha Berlin after attracting interest from around the globe.
In the Austrian’s first season at the club he contributed to 7 goals, with 5 assists and 2 goals.
He admitted he was happy with the way in which he settled into the club, both on and off the pitch, however during the pre-season of the 2018/19 campaign, the clubs tactical switch gave the Austrian more opportunities to develop.
The team focused on becoming more fluid in terms of their in-game formations, with the manager eager for the wing backs to have a large influence on the game throughout different phases.
Lazaro was utilised in a variation of positions behind the striker throughout his career, playing on the left, through the middle or on the right, however he established his place in the starting lineup when making the right wing position his own. With the newly implemented tactics executed throughout the campaign, Lazaro reaped the rewards.
The team started the season with two consecutive wins, Lazaro having a hand in a goal within each of these victories, while his performances were being noticed by the German media.
One article was published claiming that Valentino Lazaro was the best Austrian in the Bundesliga since the arrival of David Alaba
The Austrian went on to represent Hertha Berlin a total of 57 times, scoring 5 goals. The most impressive was a volley from outside the box which he struck with brilliant technique and venomous power. The strike left his boot, flew past now teammate, Joelinton, and arrowed into the top corner of Hoffenheim’s net. This was an impressive return from a versatile winger / wing back position.
In July 2019, Inter Milan finally got the man they tried to sign from Red Bull Salzburg. Lazaro signed for a fee of around £20 million but failed to impress the Italian manager Antonio Conte.
After making just six league appearances for Nerazurri, the club opted to loan out the attacker, with the hope he can gain priceless experience and return to fight for a starting position at the San Siro.
Life at Newcastle
Valentino Lazaro landed in Newcastle following a summer of change at St James Park. With Steve Bruce at the helm, and wanting to navigate a season of more attacking displays, the Austrian seemed a suitable acquisiton.
The agreement of a loan deal allowed us to see how he would handle the transition into the Premier League, while it allowed the player to get minutes under his belt with the opportunity to impress his parent club, and become a more prominent figure if he returned.
In the very short career Lazaro has had in the North East so far, there has certainly been some troubling moments.
His introduction to Premier League football began with an impressive first half display against Arsenal, before we succumbed to a 4-0 defeat. Lazaro was nutmegged in the process for one of Arsenal’s goals, which must have given his confidence a real knock. From this moment it was clear that his game had defensive weaknesses to it, but showed real promise each time he ventured forward.
The Austrian then put in a fine individual performance away at Crystal Palace, however a late red card for denying Zaha a clear goal scoring opportunity, overshadowed his performance.
With the suspension keeping the attacker out of Premier League fixtures, Bruce gave Lazaro a starting position against West Brom. It was an important game, with an FA Cup quarter final up for grabs, and Lazaro certainly impressed in a more attacking position. He scored his first goal for Newcastle, just 2 minutes after the half time restart.
The goal put us 3-0 up after 47 minutes on the clock, however with West Brom fighting back in the dying moments of the game, the Austrian’s goal turned out to be the deciding finish which earned us our spot in the draw.
It is hard to summarise the Austrian’s time in the North East so far. Arguably the biggest takeaway would be his attacking flair. I believe Newcastle looked at their best when Saint-Maximin was deployed out on the left, Almiron through the middle, and Lazaro was placed in a more attacking position on the right.
His versatility does make him a good player, and at just 24 years old I believe we have a talented player on our hands. With a continuous run of games, I believe we could see a real player.
What the future may hold
The future of a player on loan at a club is always precarious, if you add the current situation of a global pandemic and a potential NUFC Takeover, then further doubt overshadows the future of Valentino Lazaro.
We have seen flair players in the past fail miserably during their time in the North East, with Florian Thauvin and Remy Cabella instantly coming to mind. In contrast to these players, I feel Lazaro offers something different to the team. His commitment to both attack and defend in a game is refreshing to see, while his personality reflects a very intelligent and mature individual.
I believe his attitude would be a positive addition if the transfer was made permanent, while I feel his performances on the pitch will get better and better.
I would personally sign Lazaro on a permanent basis regardless of the outcome of the takeover. I believe under the correct manager he could flourish in the system Newcastle have become accustomed to in recent seasons.
Would you like to see Valentino Lazaro sign for Newcastle United permanently?
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