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Atsu must step up in Ritchie absence

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Image for Atsu must step up in Ritchie absence

OPINION

attacker has never really been able to establish himself as a regular member of the Magpies’ first-team since joining from Chelsea on a permanent basis in 2017.

The 27-year-old has always fed on the scraps handed to him by managers and has had to make do with a bit-part role more often than not.

Atsu made 29 appearances for the in the 2017/18 season, completing 90 minutes on only 13 occasions, and while he featured 32 times in the 2018/19 season, only nine appearances saw him play the full match.

This is the case even though the 27-year-old is a versatile player.

Atsu can play on either flank and has even been deployed as an attacking midfielder during his career.

However while the 27-year-old has had to make do with limited minutes in the past, he surely has the golden chance needed to finally establish himself in the first-team after was ruled out for two months.

Bruce confirmed on Friday that Ritchie was set to be unavailable for two months after picking up an against Leicester City.

“It’s bad news – it’s two months. The kid is in a mess,” said the boss, as quoted by the Chronicle.

Given that Atsu replaced Ritchie during the League Cup clash with Leicester when the Scottish winger sustained the injured, Bruce clearly believes the international can fill in for Ritchie while he’s out.

The 27-year-old is more than capable of covering for Ritchie, he just needs to consistently deliver the goods when playing.

Atsu has played 62 times in the Premier League, grabbing only three goals and four assists, something he needs to work on, but he has impressively made 43 tackles and maintained an impressive 76% success rate in the process. (Source: Premier League)

The 27-year-old has good stats defensively, he has made 35 clearances and 21 interceptions, which shows his willingness to work for the team and that’s only going to serve him well.

Also when Atsu is on form, he’s a joy to behold.

Take his appearance in the 1-0 win over Tottenham last weekend for example.

The winger dazzled when entering the game and it was his beautifully weighted pass that put Joelinton through on goal in order for him to be able to slot the ball home.

If Atsu performs like that again, he averaged a rating of 7.41 on WhoScored, then he could soon be one of the first names on the teamsheet and may even keep Ritchie out of the team when he’s fit.

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