What next for Christian Atsu after Newcastle's Premiership qualification?
The Ghanaian international has enjoyed a breakthrough season with Newcastle United, but can he kick on from there?
The Newcastle United winger helped his side to a 4-1 victory over Preston North End – a win that guaranteed qualification back into the Premier League for the Magpies.
Earlier on in the match the 25-year-old had scored a wonderful goal to put his side 2-1 up after Ayoze Perez’s opener was cancelled by Jordan Hugill. And as the entire Newcastle dressing room looked hyper after the game, every football-loving Ghanaian would have, at one point or the other, soliloquized: ‘What next for Atsu?’
The Ghanaian winger has always been fantastic when playing for the Black Stars. However, his club form has most often left much to be desired. Atsu’s most productive spell in terms of game time prior to his loan move to St. James Park was at Rio Ave and Vitesse Arhem where he played 27 and 28 matches respectively.
Notable stints with Everton, Bournemouth and Malaga all ended in disappointment, as the winger could not even make 15 appearances during his time with the aforementioned clubs.
But at Newcastle United, Atsu made 30 appearances – scoring four goals in the process. It has been a frustrating last three years for the on-loan Chelsea player. Regarded as one of the most talented players to ever play for the Black Stars, Atsu’s story has been the contrary when it comes to club level.
The former Porto man has struggled for form, coupled with niggling injuries, but now he is enjoying his most productive stint ever. And the future can only look bright if he stays with Raphael Benitez’s side – especially when the club has made its intentions clear of keeping him.
“When we were watching players for this position in the summer, we were looking for someone like him,” Benitez said earlier this season.
“He can pass and run behind defenders and create and score goals. We are happy with him.”
The decision will now be down to Atsu, as to whether he will stay with the Magpies. His decision to leave Porto for Chelsea at a time when he would have been better served to stay at the Portuguese side particularly stalled his career. But now his future lies in his own hands.
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Chelsea is definitely a big club which many players will love to play for, however, getting enough playing time should be Atsu’s priority right now.
And he can take cue from players like Michy Batsuhayi and Nathan Ake who are very talented, but have struggled to break into the Blues’ first team.
Helping Newcastle United secure qualification back into the Premier League is a major step forward in the career of Atsu, and he must now strive to keep his club career going on a consistent basis.
However, that will be largely dependent on where he plays next season. A monster in national team colours, but so tame and largely ineffective at club level: Atsu’s time at Newcastle has proved an exception. And playing in the Premiership next season with Rafael Benitez’s side would be the perfect platform for him to continue is renaissance at club level.
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