Newcastle’s Christian Atsu reveals his reaction to Rafa Benitez’s call

Newcastle United's Christian Atsu
Newcastle United's Christian Atsu
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Christian Atsu feels he can strike fear into Championship defences – with the help of Rafa Benitez.

Atsu joined Newcastle United on a season-long loan from Chelsea in the summer.

He has encouraged me and tells me to use my strongest point which is my pace and to not be afraid. He believes in what I can do.

Christian Atsu

The winger’s stunning goal gave the club a 1-0 Championship win over Rotherham United before the international break.

It was Atsu’s first start for third-placed Newcastle, who take on Brentford at St James’s Park on Saturday.

United manager Benitez had told him to play to his strengths – and “not be afraid”.

And Benitez has instilled in Atsu the belief that he can make a difference on the pitch for his team.

“He has encouraged me and tells me to use my strongest point which is my pace and to not be afraid,” said Atsu.

“He believes in what I can do.”

Atsu struggled to make an impression on previous loans at Bournemouth and Everton, though he caught the eye of Benitez – who could recall Matt Ritchie to his starting XI at the expense of Atsu – at Malaga in the second half of last season.

And the Ghana international was quickly sold on a move to “big club” United after Benitez called him.

“I am very happy when he called me and said that he would like me to join Newcastle,” said Atsu.

“I told him I would like to speak with my family, but I knew I would join Newcastle.

“They are a big club with a great manager.”

Atsu feels his pace will see him create many more opportunities for himself – and his team-mates – this season.

“I am a quick player,” said Atsu, who struck the woodwork on his debut against Queens Park Rangers last month.

“I like to run in behind the defence and create chances for my team-mates.

“I use my pace to create chances and to score. Everyone here is working hard. I am very happy when everyone is happy and in good shape.

“We need everyone to be working hard because it is a long season. I am happy to see that everyone is.”

Atsu started the friendly between Ghana and South Africa on Tuesday night. The game ended 1-1.