The Ghanaian international missed the beginning of the season through injury and returned for the game against Tottenham, doing enough to start the draw with Watford the week after.
Bruce has been pleasantly surprised by the 27-year-old in training and has been ecstatic with the impact he has made on the squad so far.
“All of a sudden, in training, we’re thinking ‘wow, wow – he’s a bit different to what we’ve got’ – and he pleasantly surprised us.”
“I thought he was terrific in his attitude to stay on the ball, to work with it, and did very, very well.”
Atsu assisted the winning goal against Tottenham in his first outing of the season after failing to make an impact at the Africa Cup of Nations over the summer.
Bruce is clearly ecstatic with the impact Atsu has had since returning, and the 27-year-old is fully deserving of all the plaudits he has received. When exciting summer signing Allan Saint-Maximin left the field against Tottenham, Magpies’ fans will have been fearing the worst, but Atsu was the main reason they picked up all three points that afternoon. Despite only averaging 0.5 shots per game [WhoScored], the electrifying winger has helped create numerous chances with his pace and skill. The Ghanaian has averaged three key passes per game so far this season, as well as completing 2.5 dribbles [WhoScored] – the most by a significant distance in the entire Magpies’ squad in both areas. The enforced break could have been exactly what Atsu needed at the beginning of the campaign, and whatever he did during that absence clearly has worked, with Bruce and everyone at the club jubilant with the impact he has continued to make since his return.