The summer transfer window will not open for over a month, but Newcastle United is not wasting time in building a Premier League squad, signing Chelsea winger Christian Atsu to a four-year deal. United is exercising their option to buy the Ghanaian international following a successful loan spell, helping Newcastle win the Championship and earn promotion back to the Premier League.
Atsu, 25, made 32 league appearances for Newcastle in 2016/17, including 15 starts, and contributed five goals. Atsu joined Chelsea from Porto in 2013 but failed to make a league appearance for the Blues, spending time on loan at Vitesse, Bournemouth, Everton and Málaga before his spell with United this past season.
In discussing the move, Newcastle manager Rafa Benítez said that Christian has "shown us that he's a good professional and someone who is very keen to learn and improve... Christian has been a key part of our promotion campaign and he wants to help us to build something for the future."
Coming Home Newcastle has previously covered Atsu's qualities here and here, but in signing Christian, Newcastle addresses a lack of depth on the wings, one of the positions of concern entering the offseason. Atsu is a player who has proven to be direct in the attack and creative in the open run of play, coming in fourth in key passes per game and second in dribbles for Newcastle in his starts.
Officially, the terms of the deal are undisclosed, but the purchase option is said to be in the range of £6 million, a fee that should be considered a bargain in today’s transfer market, even if Atsu is restricted to the role of an impact sub off the bench. The investment in a player keen on moving Tyneside and who has proven able to work within Rafa’s system is a prudent one, and a great first signing of what will need to be an active transfer window for Newcastle.