The Ghanaian strays ever farther from the blissful future at Stamford Bridge he’s been dreaming of since 2013 with each new loan he’s sent on
By: Sammie frimpong
Just how does Ghana and Chelsea star Christian Atsu feel about his new loan move that takes him to English outfit Newcastle United?
No need guessing, really, if the footballer’s own heartfelt remarks after the deal was sealed shortly before the end of the summer window is anything to go by.
“I’m very happy to be at Newcastle,” Atsu told the club’s website. “It’s a very big club. They have good facilities and I think Newcastle have one of the best coaches in the world.”
For all those reasons, indeed, he should be happy. Newcastle are truly one of England’s biggest sides — albeit a fallen one after last season’s relegation from the English Premier League — and, in Rafa Benitez, they do have a genuinely world-class coach, regardless of the Spaniard’s stock being as low as it’s ever been. And, of course, St. James’ Park rocks anyday. Still, Atsu shouldn’t be as excited as he seems — at least that optimism should be tempered with a healthy dose of caution.
We’ve seen it all before, haven’t we?
Newcastle are the fifth club Atsu has been farmed to since transferring to Chelsea in 2013 (Vitesse Arnhem, Everton, Bournemouth and Malaga the others), the Championship his fourth league destination (he’s already been in the Eredivisie, the Premier League and La Liga). Not that Atsu’s wandering has yielded much, however, with the winger playing just 50 games — the bulk of those being appearances off the bench — in all. Atsu may not be the only lad Chelsea have shipped out temporarily (the Pensioners have quite a contingent out on loan, in fact), but that fact provides scant consolation, if any at all.
Three years after moving from FC Porto to Greater London, Atsu is yet to represent Chelsea in a competitive game and the possibility of that anomaly being rectified in the foreseeable future doesn’t get any brighter as the months roll by. A trio of Chelsea managers haven’t found him worth keeping and that, for a player so ambitious and talented, could be quite crushing. The 24-year-old’s big, blue bubble keeps getting punctured in places, one loan move at a time.
His latest, though, should be his last. Atsu is hardly an unknown quantity; he bested 367 others to be crowned the 2015 Nations Cup’s most outstanding player, if that’s any accurate measure of his quality. When fit (which never really happened at Bournemouth) and given enough opportunities (a luxury he didn’t enjoy at Everton), he can deliver.
Thankfully, Newcastle have the option to make Atsu’s transfer permanent after the season-long loan expires and, if Chelsea decide not to have the young man back at Stamford Bridge afterwards, it should only be because the Magpies decided to activate said clause — or perhaps because some other club prises him away on a long-term deal.
Anything less would only do Atsu’s prospects more damage than has already been done.