One particular January transfer that fell through was that of Newcastle United winger Christian Atsu – and he must surely be regretting it now.
Indeed, Sky Sports reported that Celtic had made an approach to the Magpies for the attacker on deadline-day. However, Atsu decided to turn down the idea. Instead, he wanted to fight for his place at St James’ Park.
You could see the point at the time too. Before January, Atsu had played in 16 Premier League matches. The previous 10 had come from the bench, but he was clearly getting the minutes to impress (Transfermarkt). Fast forward two months, however, and Atsu had lost his way before the shutdown.
Almost immediately after turning Celtic down, he came on for the closing stages against Oxford United in an FA Cup replay. He bagged an assist, but his general performance was absolutely woeful. He occasionally beat his man, but his final ball was dreadful in a game where he should’ve gotten a lot more than a solitary assist.
Since then he’s yet to play a single match. He was benched in the two Premier League games that sandwiched the Oxford match, before dropping out of Steve Bruce’s squad completely for the last three games against Crystal Palace, Burnley, and Southampton respectively (Transfermarkt).
Playing chances look grim
All of a sudden, that place in the side he was fighting for looks as though it’s been lost.
Granted, the football shutdown wouldn’t have benefited him anywhere. However, Atsu would’ve received plenty more game-time at Parkhead if he decided to make the move to Glasgow.
Should the football resume, Newcastle will have nine games left to leave any relegation bother in the rear-view mirror and finish as high as they can.
Considering Atsu has been nowhere near the team over the last two months, why would Bruce throw him in now? It’s looking more and more like a crazy decision from the Ghanaian.
He can probably forget the idea of Celtic coming in for him in the summer too. Players who reject the chance to come to Parkhead seldom get a second opportunity.
Hopefully, he gets his career back on track, because he is a talent. But he had his chance to reinvent himself at Parkhead and dismissed it. Surely, given all that’s happened since, it’s a decision he’s regretting.
By David Walton