With lavish fees splashed out on the likes of Willian and Andre Schurrle last summer, Chelsea’s signing of Christian Atsu from Porto for £2.6 million went somewhat under the radar.
The young winger was immediately farmed out on loan to feeder club Vitesse, where he scored five goals and made six assists en route to being voted player of the season by the club’s fans.
Atsu’s excellent form in the Eredivisie saw him primed to play a significant role at the World Cup for Ghana. In contention to start against USA in the Black Stars’ Group G opener, he indeed got the nod from boss Kwesi Appiah.
And the 22-year-old took advantage of the chance to show a bit of what he can do in his World Cup debut.
A player of pace and creativity, Atsu was a thorn in the the Americans’ side on the right wing as Ghana dominated the territory of the match with 62% possession.
His 62 touches were the most out of Ghana’s front four, whilst a team-high three chances created highlighted his influence in the final third.
|Team||Pos||Chances Created||Dribbles||Fouls Won||Touches||Pass Accuracy||Apps||Mins|
A pack USA defence limited Atsu to one dribble but he was able to win a pair of fouls, whilst his distribution was tidy with a pass accuracy of 82%.
If the youngster did let himself down anywhere, it was with his crossing and shooting. All four of Atsu’s efforts on goal missed the target, and only one of five crosses picked out a team-mate.
|Team||Pos||Total Shots||Shots on Target||Total Crosses||Accurate Crosses||Apps||Mins|
Given the occasion, however - not to mention the fact that Ghana were chasing the game after going down 1-0 inside thirty seconds - he gave a good account of himself on the whole.
Atsu was no doubt disappointed to lose in dramatic fashion on a late goal from USA’s John Brooks, but expressed satisfaction at his body of work.
He told ESPN in a TV interview: “I’m very happy [with my World Cup debut], but not so happy that we lost."
“Most important is the team, and we hope next time to do our best, but when now that it’s difficult we have the chance to prove ourselves."
“It’s true that this is my first World Cup, and of course when I play I always look to enjoy it and make myself happy.”
Atsu and the Black Stars now face a pair of stern tests against Germany and Portugal, giving the Chelsea man the chance to put his talents on display against high-level opposition.
How his performance in the World Cup will affect his short-term prospects at Stamford Bridge is yet unknown, it’s been suggested he’ll spend next season on loan at Vitesse once again, but more quality minutes in Brazil can only bode well for raising his stock back in West London.