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Can this Newcastle United player fight his way back into the lineup?

Christian Atsu was once seen as a great signing from Chelsea, only to quickly fade into the obscurity of mediocrity.

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Remember when everyone was pretty sold on Christian Atsu? The loanee from Chelsea that everyone saw as a strong wing option for Newcastle United later became a permanent signing in what was seen as one of the most solid signings for Rafa, despite having initially been a McClaren option at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Christian Atsu doesn’t even see a departure from the club in his future plans. Speaking about his place at Newcastle the Ghana international had this to say:

“I’m not looking for a move away from Newcastle United in January and to be honest, it has not even been part of my plans.”

He insists, “I rather want to stay here and improve on my performance because I’m very happy to play for Newcastle. It is a great honour for me to represent them.”

His attitude seems to be there, but is the talent or ability? At 26 years old, Atsu should be at the peak of his playing career, but it doesn’t look that way. Atsu hasn’t found his way into the starting lineup, nor has he managed to make an impact during his playing time as a substitute.

His playing time this season? One start and 176 minutes. If I were a betting man, I’d say he won’t be making an impact anytime soon. When Rafa makes team decisions, they usually end up being the final decision. If Atsu hasn’t impressed Rafa to date, there may be reason to believe he never will.