Four years after arriving in England with Chelsea, Christian Atsu scored his first ever Premier League goal over the weekend and the winger has dedicated his superb rise to form to Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez.
Atsu showed glimpses last season, but didn’t do enough to convince the majority of fans that he had what it takes to be a hit in the Premier League. A goal, an assist and several lively displays later, it’s fair to say he’s been a revelation so far this season and the Ghanaian has revealed what advice Benitez has been giving him to help take his game to the next level:
“I think with Rafa I have improved a lot. I’ve seen for myself and a lot of people have also seen it,”
Rafa’s always telling me to use my speed to run behind the defence if I want to assist or score goals,”
“Ritchie gave me a great ball, and I ran behind the defence. It was a great finish.”
“He’s very important to me. I’m also listening to him. He’s a good coach.”
Interestingly, it turns out Rafa’s advice has proved to be spot on here, with Atsu’s goal against Stoke and assist against West Ham being a perfect example of him using his ‘speed to run behind defence’ to get goals and assists.
I’m made up for Atsu and am delighted to see him play with confidence after finally being handed a real chance in English football.
During spells at Chelsea, Everton and Bournemouth he was handed as many Premier League appearances in the space of a few years as he has racked up already for Newcastle this season (5).
For the first time the winger is playing week in, week out in the English top flight and it’s great to see him repaying the faith Rafa has put in him.