How Christian Atsu Would Fit into the Liverpool Team Next Season
Liverpool’s summer simply has to be about strengthening their defence following the retirement of Jamie Carragher, and with question marks over the futures of both Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates.
This, of course, explains the rumours reported by the Daily Mirror and The Guardian—linking the Reds with moves for Manchester City’s Kolo Toure, whose contract runs out in the summer, and Schalke’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos—but what about the other positions in the team?
Whilst defence has to be the priority, Liverpool’s promising attack could also do with some tweaking ahead of the new campaign.
Whilst the likes of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are going to be as important as they were in the 2012/13 campaign―and they’ll be ably supported by talents such as Raheem Sterling, Fabio Borini and Jordon Ibe, of course―Brendan Rodgers will also be on the lookout for other options.
If reports from Sky Sports are to be believed, this search has led him to Porto’s 21-year-old Ghanaian winger, Christian Atsu, who could be available for as little as £3 million due to his contract expiring next summer.
A lively winger with a flair for the spectacular, Atsu has impressed since becoming the latest in a long line of unpolished gems picked up by Porto when he joined the club four years ago at the age of 17.
Former Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas did see the potential of the young Ghanaian and quickly gave him a first-team bow, but he was sent out on loan to fellow Portuguese outfit Rio Ave last season to gain some experience.
Impressive performances there led to him becoming more of a regular in the Porto squad for the season just gone, and he played 16 times as The Dragons clinched the Primeira Liga title by a point from archrivals Benfica. Atsu also featured in all eight of Porto’s matches in the Champions League, coming off the bench in all of them until their last-16 elimination at the hands of Malaga.
His rise to prominence came with eye-catching displays as Ghana reached the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations in January, when he scored the most recent of his three international goals from 13 caps in a 3-0 group-stage win over Niger.
Viewed as somewhat of an impact player, Atsu might be seen coming off the bench for Liverpool more often than starting should he sign, but it’s not hard to envisage a place for him in the starting lineup.
Possessing the ability to play on both wings but favouring the left, Atsu could be seen as a cheaper alternative to Stewart Downing should he sign.
With Oussama Assaidi seemingly heading for the exit door, according to the Liverpool Echo, there is a chance that Downing could follow him. But perhaps he deserves the chance to stay following an improved second half of the season.
If and when picked, though, Atsu would perhaps assume a similar role to Downing in the side.
Cutting inside onto his left foot, the Ghanaian could prove to be a valuable addition to the side and another option to link up with Suarez, Sturridge and Coutinho.
The former pair could make up a front three with Atsu, as Coutinho drops back into midfield alongside Lucas and Steven Gerrard. They would play in front of Pepe Reina and a defence comprising of Jose Enrique, Daniel Agger, the new centre-back (perhaps Papadopoulos with Toure as cover) and Glen Johnson.
Such a side is still a long way off, of course, but Atsu’s promise would be adding to the vast reserves of it already at Anfield.
He’d be an interesting option should he arrive.
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