Newcastle: More to come from Diame; Hanley criticised; Atsu happy with Benitez impact

Newcastle: More to come from Diame; Hanley criticised; Atsu happy with Benitez impact

One summer signing that has underwhelmed since moving to St James’ Park is Mo Diame. The former Hull City midfielder was signed as a replacement for Moussa Sissoko, but he has yet to hit top form at his new club. The role he has been utilised in is just behind the striker and he has been given the freedom to attack, but he has yet to score his first Magpies goal. He has given an interview to NUFC TV and has been honest about his contribution since joining Newcastle.

“When Rafa Benitez called for me, he called me for more than I am giving at the moment.

 

“As I say, I am still working hard, that’s why I think I am still in the team, but need to give more offensively.”

It will be reassuring for Newcastle supporters that Diame knows that he has to show more than he has done so far. There was excitement when it was announced the Senegalese international would be joining the club due to his attacking ability. Last season, he scored ten goals for Hull in the Championship and there was hope that he could hit a similar number in the black of white of Newcastle. It is important that he opens his account in the coming weeks, before the pressure really begins to build.

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Another of Newcastle’s summer signings has been criticised for his poor performance during the international break. Neil McCann has suggested that Grant Hanley was responsible for the third Slovakian goal against Scotland.

“The third goal of course is Grant Hanley. He could do better as well. You can’t let a striker come across of you.

 

“You have to be goal side and if it goes over your head then fair enough, you’re beaten by a taller man, but there’s lots of things he could do better.”

The defender was a £6 million addition from Blackburn Rovers during the summer after a protracted chase, but he hasn’t been able to secure a regular spot in the first team. He has started in just one Championship match and that came on the opening day against Fulham, a match Newcastle lost. It was always going to be a risky move for the Scottish international as the competition for places is fierce and he is seen as the fourth choice behind Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark and Chancel Mbemba. His performance for Scotland suggests that he is suffering from a lack of confidence, which makes it unlikely that he will qualify for the first team anytime soon.

Finally, Rafa Benitez has encouraged Christian Atsu to believe in himself and use his pace to make Newcastle more dangerous in attack. The Ghanaian has joined the club on a season-long loan and has the task of convincing the club to sign him permanently. Atsu impressed on his first start against Rotherham and scored the winning goal in the process.

“He has encouraged me and tells me to use my strongest point which is my pace and to not be afraid,”

 

“He believes in what I can do.

“I am very happy when he called me and said that he would like me to join Newcastle.”

Since moving to England, Atsu has failed to settle at any one club, but he seems happy at Newcastle and has the potential to go from strength-to-strength this season. His ability to beat players and make things happen in the final third make him a useful player to have in the squad. He faces a difficult test to beat Matt Ritchie to a first team place, but he offers a different option and I expect him to impress in the black and white this season.

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