Christian Atsu goes into this Sunday’s game knowing that he is fighting for Newcastle United future.
While all focus will be on ensuring United finish the season with three points and potentially the Championship title – there are several players who will know that may be their final chance to prove their worth to Rafa Benitez .
Atsu is one of them as Barnsley travel up to St James’ Park. The on-loan Chelsea man has featured heavily in United’s promotion bid this season but has only started 14 times in 40 appearances.
He has scored five goals including arguably the pivotal goal against Preston in the 4-1 victory that sealed the Magpie’s promotion.
But at 25, the Ghanaian international has failed to hold down a regular place at any team he has been at and has never actually pulled on a Chelsea shirt.
Benitez will have to decide just whether the winger is worth a chunk of his budget his summer.
Here is what our writers think when asked should United sign Christian Atsu?
Mark Douglas: YES
If squad building is Newcastle’s aim then Atsu at £6million looks like a decent bet. I don’t believe he’s necessarily going to be a first-team starter for Newcastle in the Premier League but it looks like a fairly good bit of business at that price.
Benitez needs to bring in first team ready players as soon as possible and that will require an injection of cash and a willingness to do the big deals. But the overall squad quality also needs to be improved – and Atsu as a squad winger is a good buy. If he’s prepared to play a similar role next year, it’s a good deal.
Chris Waugh: YES
He hasn’t exactly set the Championship alight, but I think Christian Atsu is worth taking a punt on permanently. As the season has come to its climax, the Ghanaian has come to the fore and has chipped in with two really important goals in recent games.
What’s more, at 25 years of age, he will retain value – and, if the deal makes sense financially and is around the £6.5m mark, then I’d sign him up. Benitez wanted a left-winger in January to add greater depth out wide so, should he lose Atsu too, then that’d be two players he’d need to sign for that position.
Even though Atsu is limited in some ways – he can drift out of games and his goals and assists return still needs to improve – I don’t see Newcastle being able to sign a winger of similar-or-better quality for much cheaper a price.
United need to sign between six and 10 players this summer if they want to avoid relegation next season, so tying one deal up with Atsu makes sense to me – and allows Benitez to focus on other positions in which Newcastle are weaker.
Stuart Jamieson: NO
Newcastle United need players guaranteed to be able to perform in the Premier League next season, and for my money, Atsu is not in that category. He has impressed in patches this season, but his final ball is lacking. With chances likely to be harder to come by in the top flight, the Magpies can’t afford to have someone who fails to deliver when in good positions.
His pace does cause opposition problems and the pricetag is attractive, but United should focus on signings to improve the first team, not bolster the squad.
Sean McCormick: Yes
It would largely be dependent on the price, but if the £6.5 million fee that is being quoted is correct, I think Newcastle should sign him. Atsu has made positive noises about his time at the club and it’s clear that it is a move he wants.
He is ending the season brilliantly, making his case for a move and it would be good if he could bring that momentum into next season.
You would think Benitez will be looking at a couple of other wide players in the Summer, but he offers a different dimension to our current wide options. With both Yoan Gouffran and Sammy Ameobi out of contract in the Summer, having Matt Ritchie and Atsu as a base to build on, in terms of our wide options, would only be positive in my opinion.
Andrew Musgrove: Yes
For the price being bandied about I think Christian Atsu would be a good addition to a squad which is going to need a major overhaul this summer. He is one of those players who is better than the Championship and certainly has quality.
Would he be first team? Arguably not but for the reported £6.5 million price tag, you’ll not find many better players than Atsu on the market and at his age, there is still enough time to develop.
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