Christian Atsu reveals what Rafa Benitez has been telling him to do for Newcastle

Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie
Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie

Christian Atsu's finally off the mark in the Premier League – four years after arriving in England.

The Newcastle United winger, for the first time, is playing week in, week out in the English top flight.

And that, in Atsu's view, is down to manager Rafa Benitez, who took a chance on him just over a year ago when he took him on a season-long loan.

READ MORE: Christian Atsu reveals what he MUST do at Newcastle – if he’s to stay in the team

Atsu, signed on a permanent deal from Chelsea in the summer, scored five goals during the club's Championship-winning campaign.

The 25-year-old is now an integral part of Benitez's Premier League team, having started all but one of the club's five league games this season.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

"I think with Rafa I have improved a lot. I've seen for myself and a lot of people have also seen it," said Atsu, who scored the opening goal in Saturday's 2-1 win over Stoke City.

"He's very important to me. I'm also listening to him. He's a good coach."

Benitez has been telling Atsu to use his pace to get in behind defences, and he was there at the far post to meet Matt Ritchie's cross against Stoke.

"Rafa's always telling me to use my speed to run behind the defence if I want to assist or score goals," said the Ghana international. "Ritchie gave me a great ball, and I ran behind the defence. It was a great finish."

Atsu also felt he should have had a penalty in the game, having gone down under a challenge from Kurt Zouma.

"I think that was a penalty," Atsu told NUFC TV. "He pushed me, though I think he touched the ball. He pushed me before touching the ball."

Atsu joined Chelsea from Porto in 2013, but he never played a competitive first-team game for the club.