Celtic very nearly landed Newcastle United winger Christian Atsu on deadline day. The Hoops had a bid accepted for the player but it was turned down by the 28-year-old.
Last night, Atsu was handed a rare chance to shine. He was introduced as a substitute as Newcastle needed extra-time to overcome League One outfit Oxford United in the FA Cup.
A look at the statistics from last night will tell you that Atsu was the man who set up the winning goal.
He was responsible for sending Allan Saint-Maximin free down the left-hand side. The Frenchman then dazzled his way past the Oxford defence before unleashing an unstoppable effort beyond Simon Eastwood.
Atsu’s overall game was pretty shocking though. His habit of choosing the wrong option riled the Newcastle supporters and his decision making was poor throughout his cameo.
The Ghanian performer cost the Magpies £6 million (Guardian). He signed from Chelsea during Rafa Benitez’s tenure but has never really cemented some early promise.
Since arriving in 2017 he has netted eight goals and claimed nine assists from 118 appearances.
Atsu is unlikely to trouble Bruce’s first choice wide options for a regular place in the team and it seems foolish that he turned down the move to Celtic.
As the £30,000-a-week (Spotrac) winger toiled against third-tier opposition, Celtic must have breathed a huge sigh of relief at their failed swoop.
Although the Hoops are on course to win another league title, they wouldn’t have wanted any passengers being added to the ranks.
Last night’s performance highlighted that getting Atsu back up to his very best form might not be a short process.
He wants to fight for his place in Bruce’s team but he’s going to need to up his game.
Celtic might have been disappointed with rejection on deadline day but Atsu already looks like a dodged bullet as far as the Hoops are concerned.