Towards the start of this season Christian Atsu had stated he was willing to fight for his place and his future at Newcastle United. He was willing to do whatever it took to prove to the manager, fans, and ownership that he had a place in a black and white uniform.
When he said that, I loved it. I felt that it was something every player in that uniform needed to be saying. No place at Newcastle United is a given, even if the depth isn’t all there. Rafa will always find some player in the pecking order more willing and determined to play than the next guy. It’s one of the reasons why he’s managed to pull off what he has at Newcastle.
Atsu is well aware of that. In Newcastle’s tenth place campaign last season, like many he had flashes. But he took a seat when Kenedy came in and quickly became a fan favorite. Well, Kenedy seems to have fallen off the wagon a bit and Atsu has certainly stepped it up.
Atsu promised improvement, and that he has certainly delivered. He’s become a more exciting player to watch, and despite having what can only be describe as a lackluster performance in terms of shooting against Manchester United, it doesn’t diminish the impact that he’s starting to have on this team.
And impacts like this are going to matter as the club continues to tick games off the schedule on their way to one of two things: safety, or relegation.
Many players when they come to Newcastle seem to believe that their place is made for them. Their bed is already made, pillows have been fluffed, and they don’t have to do anything else. Kenedy sure as hell made an impact last year, and was easily a top midfielder for the club. This year, it seems that he thought he was just going to have to deal with one more season in the Northeast and he’d be off back to Chelsea to become a club legend.
You can’t become a club legend at Chelsea if you can’t cut with Newcastle and Rafa Benitez. He thought his performance last season did everything. But now he’s finding that Chelsea are going to second guess a starting position for him, and Newcastle United may have already lost interest in spending £18m which Chelsea have slapped on him (meaning they’re ready to sell and don’t see him as a future Chelsea player). See what happens when entitlement creeps in?
Christian Atsu is getting out of that mindset that so many players fall into. Florian Thauvin, Mikel Merino, Moussa Sissoko, and others, just seemed to fail to reach their overall potential. Atsu is a player that has the world ahead of him. He’s getting into his prime as a footballer, and he needs to prove that he can do something with all that talent.
He’s got me convinced.