Liverpool don’t have the money to try and compete for the top players and prospects in European football, so they’re looking at the second and third tier players, scouring foreign leagues for cheap finds of great talent. It also means a much broader pool of talent than the limited few the bigger clubs usually look at. Christian Atsu of Porto might be one of those “cheap finds” that turn out to be a very good piece of business.
Atsu, a 21 year old Ghanaian, has been with Porto since he was 17, playing for the youth side before being called up by Andre Villas- Boas to the senior side, although he didn’t get a chanced to play for the team until this season. In 2011-2012 he spent the year on loan at Rio Ave, along with teammate Kelvin, who scored the club’s most important goal this season.
Unlike Kelvin, he has yet to write himself down in the club’s history books, but he does have one goal this season. He has played in 28 matches, mostly coming off the bench as a substitute, adding one goal and four assists, usually playing on the left wing although the small (1.72) forward can play on either flank or even behind the striker if necessary. In any case, his biggest asset is his speed, but Porto-grown players are rarely that one dimensional.
Atsu is already an important member of the Black Stars, playing for Ghana in the Africa Cup of Nations six times in the tournament this season, helping the team reach the semifinal with a goal and an assists along the way.
How does Atsu fit in with Liverpool? Well, while Philippe Coutinho is the one playing on the left wing, he is movable around the pitch and does then to move to the middle quite a lot. It doesn’t mean Atsu is destined to be a starter right away. Raheem Steling, Stewart Downing and Suso will all be fighting for the remaining places in the lineup, which means either Atsu takes over for one of them or is just there to increase depth, which is Brendan Rodgers’ number 2 goal after securing a player he can trust in the centre of defense.
As for the price, Atsu is valued at €6 million, but Liverpool are hoping that with his contract running out in 2014, they’ll be able to negotiate a cheaper price.