The 21-year-old winger was tracked for a long time by Liverpool before Chelsea nipped in and did a £3.5 million deal for him, which is a little confusing to understand.
He’s definitely a player for the future which has been demonstrated by the fact Chelsea instantly loaned him to Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem, who the club have a special partnership with.
Had he been the player who was going to be used to break with Jose Mourinho’s conventional tactics as Chelsea boss, then he would have surely gone straight into the first team.
On the surface, the move will more than likely make Atsu a very happy player but when he looks a little deeper, that grin may be wiped away rather quickly.
Mourinho is a boss who likes to have a very narrow midfield in games against small sides and bigger sides, in the more difficult matches.
The width in Chelsea’s team is created through the full backs with support coming from central midfielders who break out of position to go and support the flanks. In short, Chelsea are not a side that use out and out wingers.
The transfer could just be a gamble on the part of Mourinho, who will have experience of the youth setup at Porto, and the owner Roman Abramovich, who has recently been very keen on investing in younger players.
There may come a point in two or three years time where Mourinho develops a team which does use conventional wingers and Atsu could be hitting some of his best form in that side as he races towards his mid-20s.
It could be he misses the luxury of having wide players like the ones he had available at Real Madrid and has commissioned an investment along the lines of the sort of young player Chelsea are very happy to sign in the modern era.
However, unless the rules or some other basic fundamental change happens within football, there doesn’t seem much point in Mourinho having to change the way he normally gets his teams to play.
He’s won trophies all over Europe and won back-to-back titles with Chelsea during his first spell at the club so he must be doing something right when he does have to set teams up to play narrowly.
The immediate part of Atsu’s Chelsea career will depend entirely on how he plays at Vitesse this season. If he can produce a decent strike rate and create a big impression in the Eredivisie then he could be thrown into a starting eleven regularly next season.
Alternatively, even better as far as Atsu’s concerned, he may even be recalled before the end of the season and used in important matches further into the campaign.
What do you think the theory behind signing Atsu was?
image: © Jason Bagley