Christian Atsu will catch up with some of his old team-mates on Sunday evening – but before that, he’s determined to help Newcastle beat Chelsea at St. James’ Park.
The Ghana international spent nearly four years at Stamford Bridge after joining them from Porto in September 2013. And while he spent most of that time out on loan – he had temporary spells with Vitesse, Everton, Bournemouth and Malaga before joining Newcastle, initially on loan, in the summer of 2016 – he retains fond memories of his time with the Blues.
“It’s good to have this relationship back again, to see old friends,” he told nufc.co.uk this week. “I’m very happy that after the game I’m going to meet up with them, but before I meet them I hope that the three points will be for Newcastle.
“We are Newcastle, we are a team. We have a very good team spirit and we are ready to compete with any team.”
“I’M WORKING HARD AND WAITING FOR MY CHANCE, AND I WANT TO GET INVOLVED – NOT JUST AGAINST CHELSEA, BUT IN ANY GAME.”
The winger appeared as a second-half substitute on the opening day of the season against Tottenham, but wasn’t involved in last week’s 0-0 draw at Cardiff.
But, speaking as he held a Newcastle United Foundation-organised coaching course for a group of youngsters from Byker on Wednesday, Atsu said: “I’m working hard and waiting for my chance, and I want to get involved – not just against Chelsea, but in any game.
“I’m ready for any game. The decision is for Rafa Benítez to make – I’m just focused on training, working hard and I respect every decision that our manager makes.”
The fact that Kenedy is ineligible to face his parent club at the weekend could present Atsu with an opportunity.
Kenedy missed a late spot-kick at the Cardiff City Stadium last time out, but Atsu – who is close to the Brazilian as both speak Portuguese and spent time together at Chelsea – believes that his friend has put that disappointment behind him.
“I watched the game and Joselu did something that was great when he missed the penalty,” explained Atsu.
“He went to him, he hugged him and said ‘let’s go again.’ This is the team spirit that we have and I’m very happy that the players supported him.
“In training, I’ve seen that he’s very happy and confident again. We need him to be at his best because he’s very important for the team and he can help the team so we’re all praying that the next time he will take (a penalty) and score.
“He’s very skilful, he’s technically good, he can shoot, he can defend, so we’re happy that he’s here. Now his head is up and, while I know he can not play against Chelsea, he is training well.
“The past is the past now. The future is more important and he’s doing exactly what he has to do now.