Atsu: Ghana attacker responds to Chelsea transfer criticism

Ghana attacker Christian Atsu stands by his decision to join Chelsea in 2013 despite ultimately leaving the club four years later without a competitive appearance.

After bursting onto the scene with Portuguese giants Porto, the winger made a switch to Stamford Bridge, joining The Blues on a five-year deal.

Tight competition for places in London forced him out on successive loans before permanently leaving the club for Newcastle United in 2017.

“That [joining Chelsea] was the right decision that I made, if someone tells me this road is wrong, they must know what would have happened if I’d stayed at Porto," Atsu told The Athletic.

"Would I be at a big European club now? Maybe, but nobody can tell me that for certain. If Chelsea want to sign you, how can you say no?

"I believed I could make it at Chelsea so I went there. It didn’t happen but that does not make it a bad move.”

After loan spells at Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem, English sides Everton, Bournemouth and Spanish outfit Malaga, Atsu joined Newcastle initially on loan in 2016.

He helped The Magpies secure promotion to the Premier League that season, a contribution that earned him a permanent contract ahead of the following term.

At the end of the 2020-21 campaign, his stint with Newcastle came to an end, leaving him as a free agent.

“I am weighing up my options,” Atsu says.

“I would prefer it to be warm weather, but we’ll see. I’ve loved being in England and I have offers from here but I think I need to move away. I might stay in Europe. I have to decide."

It was certainly not the kind of final season the 29-year-old had hoped for at Newcastle as he was completely frozen out of the club's first team and failed to make any appearance.

His club woes have meant he has had to take time away from international duty with Ghana, having last represented his country in 2019.

"The [Ghana] coach [CK Akonnor] understands and he told me to let him know when I’m ready. I need to be playing first,” Atsu explained.

Ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations in January next year, Atsu is hoping to rejoin the Black Stars who have set their sights on a first title since 1982.

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“If you look at the players Ghana have produced since we last won the Afcon, it’s very sad," he said.

“We must target the January 2022 tournament. If I am part of it, as I hope, I will give everything. I do not want to retire without winning a trophy for Ghana. If I do, I’ll be a failure."

The winger's last appearance for Ghana came at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt in 2019.