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Feature: Is Christian Atsu ever going to break out?

Christian Atsu is equipped with a skill set that could help evolve him into a scary talent in the Premier League.

At age 25, the Ghana International has already become a well traveled citizen of the footballing world but has never truly been the breakout performer many clubs expect him to be.

Atsu originally started as a Porto FC player before signing with Chelsea on a five-year deal in 2013. Since his signing at Chelsea, where he made zero appearances, the midfielder has been loaned out five times in five seasons traveling to clubs such as Vitesse, Everton, Bournemouth, Malaga and most recently, Newcastle United. Newcastle may be the first club he could actually call home as it will be his first back-to-back season with a club since signing with Chelsea in 2013. He has now completed a permanent transfer to the club and only has the future to look forward to.

Atsu is one of those many players that gets tagged with the overly used word “potential.” In his case, Atsu has had potential for the last five seasons and it is one of the reasons Chelsea originally acquired him. That potential has yet to show through in grand fashion, and may just be the reason Chelsea were willing to part away from him for 6 million euros.

Some of that inability to rise to the top could be attributed to him moving from team to team to team, but he was at these clubs for specific reasons. That was to improve enough to come back to Chelsea and be a player of importance. He never did this. He did however improve – it just wasn’t significant enough to warrant a call back to London.

His skill set was on full display last season in the Championship as he made 15 appearances for Newcastle United scoring five goals and earning three assists.

While never being the go to goal scorer for any of the clubs he has ventured to, Atsu has still proven to be a player of dangerous and appealing capabilities. Some of his strongest areas include a flashy dribbling style, an uncanny ability to set up teammates for opportunities and lastly, the player that’s looked at to be the lightning rod of a spark for a club that may hover around the relegation zone all season long.

As you can see, Atsu possesses just the right amount of flare, but the real question is how well can he actually lead a Newcastle team that is destined to struggle? Is he the man that keeps them away from relegation?

Well, as mentioned earlier, he is not a keen goal scorer by any means. If you’re expecting over ten goals from Atsu, you’re looking at the wrong player. But you should be expecting somewhere between four and seven goals – much of the same could be said for assists.

As a player with set-up capabilities when coming from his left wing position, what should be expected is a dangerous player when attacking the penalty area. His combination of skill on the ball, speed, and undersized appearance should combine for fouls earned around the 18-yard-box plus an abundance of crosses pushed into the center.

Earning fouls for the team will be a key contribution this season whether you believe it or not. Newcastle is not going to be a team that scores an abundance of goals within the run of play, instead they will rely heavily on set-piece plays. When Atsu earns these opportunities for the club, they have to take advantage.

What is his future?

Atsu may not be at Newcastle long. He has one season to prove his worth to the Premier League clubs looking for a player of his talents. He has a capability that is rarely found. Exciting, with a willingness to take on any opponent. He may not be the headline stealer at Newcastle, considering the lack of talent built around him, but he could easily shine elsewhere.

His future at Newcastle is not necessarily up in the air but it doesn’t mean that his time won’t be short. A player that earns fouls and takes on defenders with relative ease, is a player worth keeping around. The question should be how long will he actually stay at Newcastle, especially if they endure a full season of suffrage once more? And that is yet to be determined. Tune in and see.

Written by Michael Niemeier | Twitter: @awesomeniemeier

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