Tottenham transfer focus - Who is Christian Atsu?
The Daily Mail recently reported that Tottenham manager André Villas-Boas was interested in returning to FC Porto to capture the signature of one their players, 20-year-old winger Christian Atsu.
Christian Atsu Twasam is a young Ghanaian who has yet to play for the Dragões. He was born in Ada Foah, Ghana, the youngest of 10 siblings, along with his twin sister. Atsu graduated from street football to playing for a local club at an early age. Life changed when he was scouted and brought to Feyenoord's respected academy.
In an interview with E TV Ghana, he acknowledges the influence of Feyenoord in advancing his talent and polishing his skills. However, he left Feyenoord when his mother insisted on him finishing his education. He returned to Ghana for school, at the same time joining Cheetah FC’s youth team.
At the age of 17, with schooling coming to an end, Atsu was talent spotted again - this time by a Canadian agent who arranged a 3 day trial with FC Porto. The Portuguese club initially offered him a six month contract and he joined their academy. In the 2010/11 season, Porto’s academy were junior league champions in Portugal. The team also went on to win the 2011 Blue Stars Fifa Youth Cup in Zurich.
Atsu himself won the Golden Ball award as the tournament's best player, scoring three goals in the process. Atsu was called onto the bench for the senior team for the last game of that season, but did not get onto the pitch. FC Porto handed him a contract until June 2014 and sent him on loan to Rio Ave in the Superliga.
At Rio Ave he started 23 matches in the Superliga, scoring six goals and managing four assists in earning himself a call up to the Ghanaian national team. His one cap came in a World Cup 2014 qualifier against Lesotho, in which he came on as substitute for Sulley Muntari, and scored in a 7-0 victory. Atsu is a left footed winger, and very pacey with some nice skills. He has been used by Rio Ave on both wings and can cross and score with both feet, as well as popping up in the centre as a supporting striker.
Is this enough to warrant Villas-Boas' interest? Maybe, however what the Portuguese coach may also like about Atsu is his attitude. In his interview, Atsu stresses the importance of his upbringing and his religion, and the importance of humility and hard work. His model is Lionel Messi, not just because of the Argentine's great skill but because he has remained humble with it. He states his dream is to play for his country, to win the Champions League, and play in England or Spain - not uncommon dreams for a 20-year-old, but the difference could be that he understands this comes not just from talent but hard work.
Villas-Boas knows Atsu from his time at Porto, and is perhaps meticulous enough to have kept track of him. The Ghanaian could become another example of Spurs looking to youth and the future.
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