Sports News of Friday, 14 July 2017
Ghana winger Christian Atsu has revealed he was relieved after receiving a phone call from Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez over a permanent deal.
Atsu had excelled on loan from Chelsea and was waiting to be handed a contract to stay with the Magpies.
It took a while but when it finally came, Atsu’s hopes and prayers had been answered.
”Honestly, he called me and told me he wanted to sign me,” said the 25-year-old
”I was very happy.
”He called me and showed me respect, and I need to repay him back.
”It was when the season finished. I went back to Chelsea and I was waiting for one week and hoping and praying that Newcastle would take the option.
”I had my dream come true.
”I was hoping and praying that they would take the option. I was very happy at Newcastle. I wanted to be with the team.”
Asked about his week in limbo at the Premier League champions, the Ghana international added: ”It was a strange week.
”I was hoping and praying things would turn out well because I was very happy at Newcastle, with the lads, the fans and the whole club.
”I wanted to be with the team.”
Atsu – who had joined Chelsea from Porto in 2013 – had previously had loan spells at Everton, Bournemouth, Malaga and Vitesse Arnhem.
And the winger, the Magpies’ first summer signing, felt it was time to “settle” at a club after a nomadic few years.
“It’s nice to be settled,” said Atsu, who scored five Championship goals last season.
“There’s nothing new here – I don’t have to move to another place and start again.
“I have already settled in well, and hopefully that will help me play.
“There are no stresses.”
Atsu, however, is keen to stress the importance of a good pre-season ahead of what is certain to be a demanding first season back in the Premier League.
Benitez’s players reported back to the club last week.
And Atsu said: ”Everyone’s working hard and trying to give his best.
”We have the same coach, but it won’t be the same season.
”Everyone has to fight for a position in the team. All the lads are working hard.
”Also, I’m very happy as we’re still together like last season.”