Sports News of Sunday, 15 February 2015
Everton coach Roberto Martinez has been forced to eat large and copious amounts of humble by revealing that the Ghanaian playmaker he neglected Christian Atsu deserves a first-team place at the English side following his heroics at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Atsu has seen his opportunities limited for the Blues since arriving on a season-long loan from Chelsea in the summer, making just four starts and five substitute appearances.
However, the 23-year-old won both the Player of the Tournament and Goal of the Tournament awards when helping Ghana reach the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.
And Atsu, now back at Finch Farm, is being backed to play a more prominent role in the final months of the campaign.
“We are very pleased for Christian, and we were looking forward to having him back,” said Everton boss Roberto Martinez.
“I think now, with the games that he has had, the signs are very positive that he can come in, compete for his place and help the team.
“Christian is a very important player for us to have at this stage of the season.”
Atsu’s award-winning strike came in Ghana’s quarter-final win over Guinea, but hopes of a final victory were dashed after penalty shoot-out defeat to Ivory Coast following a goalless draw.
Of the winger’s two personal accolades, Martinez added: “They were fantastic achievements for him.
“Straight away after the final, emotions take over and obviously penalties are a cruel way to lose a game, never mind a tournament.
“But now that everything is settled, Christian personally can be very satisfied. We too are very proud of him here at Everton with his performances.
“His goal against Equatorial Guinea will be a terrific memory and being named Player of the Tournament is not an easy feat, especially if you don’t actually win the competition.”