Cape Town - Newcastle
winger Christian Atsu has lauded Rafael Benitez for honing his talent,
after initially struggling to make the breakthrough in England.
The Ghana international was on Chelsea's books for four years before
he eventually joined the Magpies on a permanent basis in the off-season.
Atsu linked up with Benitez's side on a season-long loan in 2016 and
helped the north-east club to promotion as Championship winners last
A four-year deal followed, and he has impressed on the Tynesiders'
return to the Premier League, scoring his maiden top-flight goal in a
2-1 win over Stoke on Saturday.
The 25-year-old, who has started four of their five league games in
the new campaign, attributes his development over the last 12 months to
the genius of his Spanish manager.
"I am very happy the team won and also happy to get my first Premier
League goal," Atsu told the club's official website. "Three wins in a
row is very good for the team.
"Rafa is always telling me to use my speed to run in behind the
defence if I want to assist or score more goals and it has shown a lot.
"I think with Rafa, I have improved a lot, I have seen it for myself
and a lot of people are also seeing it. So he is very important to me
and I also listen to him very attentively because he is a very good
"I try to work hard every day in training, try to prove to him I want
to be in the starting XI because others are also waiting for the
opportunity. The atmosphere in the dressing room is very good and we
have to keep working hard."