Connect in the back of the net

“Oh Christian Atsu oh he is so wonderful” was heard on countless occasions across the season, as the Ghanaian has agreed to make his loan move to St James’ Park permanent when the transfer window opens on 1st July.

The Chelsea loanee will sign a four-year deal, with a fee of £6.2m being agreed between the two clubs, while Atsu will finally settle down at a club after failing to make a significant impact at any of his previous teams.

 

Journeyman

The much-travelled winger began his career at F.C Porto in 2011, spending a season on loan to fellow Portuguese side Rio Ave in the process.

After returning to Porto for the 2012/13 season, Atsu earned a move to Chelsea for £3.5m at the beginning of the next campaign.

Following his switch to the capital, Atsu was immediately sent to Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem on loan and was a regular for the club, raking up 28 appearances and contributing with five goals.

The 25-year-old then made further loan moves to Everton, Bournemouth and Malaga, with limited success stemming from a lack of playing time.

Atsu only made two League Cup appearances during his time with Bournemouth, while featuring only five times in the League for Everton and on 12 occasions for Malaga, while not making a single appearance for Chelsea.

 

Slow start

Although such limited playing time hindered his development somewhat, the potential was there for all to see, prompting Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez to take a chance on Atsu and signed him on a season-long loan with the then-Championship outfit.  

A slow start to life for the Magpies was understandable, as Atsu had never previously played in England’s second tier.

Not long after however, the Ghanaian found his feet, scoring his first Newcastle goal and the only goal in the 1-0 victory at Rotherham United in October 2016.

 

Entrusted by Rafa

Atsu then went on to play the most minutes of his career in a season, making make 35 appearances in all competitions throughout the 2016/17 campaign, netting five times including crucial strikes in matches against Preston North End as well as an excellent free-kick away at Cardiff.

Benitez’s trust in Atsu was evident in the moments of flair produced as well as displays of fine wing-play resulting in man-of-the-match awards in games against Brighton and Cardiff, with the former Chelsea man also being comfortable on either flank and completing his defensive duties in addition.

The development of Atsu at Newcastle is not a coincidence, as the winger has not been under the guidance of a manager of Rafa Benitez’s calibre at his previous clubs.

 

Future looks bright once more for the Ghanaian

With Atsu playing regular football under a manager who trusts him, as well as being a fan-favourite at St James’ Park, supporters will wish to see the best years of the 25-year-old’s career to come at Newcastle.

After taking caution with Atsu in the Championship, Benitez will no doubt develop Atsu further and hope to fulfill his potential in becoming a feared Premier League attacker.

 

Written by Dawud Arshad

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