Things haven’t worked out quite as planned for Christian Atsu since his summer move to Chelsea. The Ghanaian winger was packed straight off to Vitesse Arnhem, the Blues’ Dutch feeder club.
He had every right to feel like this was a backward step. After playing in the Champions League for FC Porto in early 2013, he found himself turning out for a side that finished only fourth in the Dutch league last season.
This term started slowly.
Atsu has been playing in the centre of the pitch at the GelreDome, rather than his favoured left-wing position, but he is slowly influencing proceedings and changing the complexion of fixtures.
His international career may be affected by the Black Stars’ returning heroes. The likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Michael Essien have come back to the fold now that the World Cup is on the horizon; the competition is threatening to squeeze Atsu out of the first team.
Having started three of the four games ahead of the World Cup Qualifying play-offs against Egypt, he only featured late on in the first leg against the Pharaohs.
However, even though the big names may dominate the starting berths for Ghana, Atsu has a role to play in Brazil. He could be Kwesi Appiah’s secret weapon with his direct, glittering performances out wide.