The winger, on a season-long loan from Chelsea, is loving life with the Championship leaders – on and off the pitch
Atsu – who yesterday talked about his charity work in his native Ghana at a Newcastle United Foundation soccer school – feels he is already a better player for his time working under Benitez.
“I have moved on loan to a lot of clubs,” said the 24-year-old. “I have to put that behind me and really focus on what I have to do today and tomorrow.
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“Being at Newcastle is a great honour.
“I’m really privileged to play for Newcastle, and to work under Rafa Benitez is really good.
“I’m more focused on game by game, and at the end of the season we will see what will happen. I just want to help Newcastle.”
Asked if he wanted to stay behind this season, the Ghana international added: “I cannot comment on that. I just need a good season.”
Atsu – who struck the woodwork twice in Tuesday night’s 6-0 EFL Cup win over Preston North End – is hoping to feature in tomorrow’s Championship rematch at Deepdale, where Newcastle will be backed by 5,600 supporters.
Benitez’s new-look United team has caught the imagination on Tyneside, and the club’s hugely-experienced manager has already made an impression on Atsu.
“He’s a great man, very friendly,” said Atsu. “I’m very happy to work with him. He’s a fantastic coach.
“I’ve learnt a lot from my team-mates and also Rafa. He has been giving me chances, and I’m working hard to help the team.
“Working with him for a long time ... I will be a better player.”
Atsu is expecting a tough game against Preston, who beat Norwich City and Huddersfield Town last week.
“This will be a different game,” he said. “We have to approach this game with a different mentality. We have to know it’s a different game altogether.”
Atsu visited Newcastle United Foundation’s half-term soccer school as part of an initiative in his role as an ambassador for the Arms Around the Child charity to help highlight World Orphan Day on November 14.
“I really enjoyed working with the Newcastle United Foundation and telling the children about the charity I support in Ghana,” said Atsu, who accepted a donation of Newcastle kits for a Ghanaian orphanage.
Kate Bradley, Head of Newcastle United Foundation, said: “It is brilliant that Christian took time out to meet our Soccer School participants and to tell the about Arms Around the Child.
“The players are huge supporters of the work we do in our local community, and we’re proud to be able to support Christian in donating some playing kit for the children at the orphanage in Ghana.”
For more information, visit armsaroundthechild.org