After getting Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea, Everton are working with the Blues again as they try to sign winger Christian Atsu on a season-long loan. Allegedly, up to 12 teams are interested in signing Atsu but if the Toffees get him, here’s what they can expect.
Chelsea signed the Ghanaian international last summer from Porto and in a press release described him as “a left-footed attacker, capable of playing as a winger or a second striker.” The west London club immediately sent Atsu to their feeder team Vitesse Arnhem, playing in the Dutch Eredivisie. In 28 appearances for the Vitas in league play, Atsu played all over the pitch as a winger on each flank, an inverted right midfielder and deeper as a central midfielder. The 22-year-old scored five goals and made six assists on the way to winning Player of the Year, despite missing eight games due to paperwork. The Ada Foah native also won Player of the Year when he was on loan at Rio Ave in 2012 as he had six goals and four assists in 31 league appearances.
When he first appeared on the scene, Ghana fans gave him the nickname “Ghanaian Messi” due to his small stature, he’s 5’8, dribbling ability, play-making skills and strength but Atsu shied away from the comparisons.
“Messi is my idol. There’s no Ghanaian Messi, there is no other Messi in this world. I can never play even one percent of what Messi is doing. It’s impossible,” said Atsu to BBC Sport in 2012.
Messi is a one in a generation type of talent but Atsu is a skilled player in his own right. His strengths on the pitch are his crossing ability, making timely key passes, holding the ball up for his teammates to makes runs, his unbelievable pace and taking set pieces.
The 2012-13 Primeira Liga winner has to improve his finishing ability to add another dimension to his game but he is solid at taking accurate long shots. Everton boss Roberto Martinez will appreciate the 2012 Supertaca Candido de Oliveira champion’s versatility and willingness to play short passes in Martinez’s preferred possession philosophy.
Atsu, like most young players, is far from a finished product but with the right coach and system, he can blossom into becoming a great player. To be successful in the Premier League, he needs to improve his work rate and become involved on the defensive side of the game and learn to press efficiently so that he can start up counterattacks, which he is good at.
During the World Cup, Black Stars coach Kwesi Appiah made Atsu the creative hub of the team since Kwadwo Asamoah was stuck at being the left-back due to the team’s defensive shortcomings and the youngster did well, posing a threat in every game and making key passes that created chances for his side. The Ghanaians were a major disappointment, failing to make it out the group stage for the first time ever but Atsu is one of the players on the squad that will be looked at to carry the next generation of the national team along with Asamoah and Andre Ayew.
“Ghanaians shouldn’t put too much pressure on him. I believe that he’s going to be a great player,” said Ayew.
If given a chance to contribute for the Toffees, we should see an explosive, creative player trying to make scoring opportunities either in open play or during set pieces. Everton has done a good job this summer on making the Liverpool-based club strong enough to compete for a place in Europe again and acquiring Atsu will only help.