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Everton manager Roberto Martinez defends loanee Christian Atsu's slow start

The 22-year-old has yet to truly impress in the early season up at Everton.

Jan Kruger

Having had a wonderful season at Vitesse in the Dutch first division and then shown flashes of excitement at the World Cup (particularly against the United States), Christian Atsu's slow start to this season could (should?) be viewed as somewhat of a disappointment.  Granted, he's at a new club in a tougher league and in a new system under a different manager, but he's shown great adaptability and versatility during his time in the Netherlands and we should expect him to cope with these new challenges as well.  Especially if we hope to one day see him in a Chelsea shirt, as unlikely as that may be.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez expects just the same from the 22-year-old.

"We need to give him a little bit of time to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League just like any player but especially a winger. In other leagues referees allow less contact and they are a bit more protected.  But I think the way he has adapted to the way we want to play so far has been impressive. He's an intelligent footballer."

"It's just making sure I can give him the right introduction to his role. With the minutes he's had so far in the Europa League and other games he's done well."

"I expect him to be himself in the second half of the season and he can be a very important player for us.  To be left-footed in that wing position with a real penetrative edge like he has can give you a big advantage."

-Roberto Martínez; source: Liverpool Echo

Facing competition from Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar, Aiden McGeady, and all the versatile forwards in the squad, it's perhaps unsurprising that Atsu only has backup-level minutes so far with three starts and four total appearances to his name.  More opportunities could come his way soon with Mirallas injured for the next few weeks, but of course, Atsu -- currently away with the Ghana national football team -- will have to actually take advantage, unlike in his last game against Kuban Krasnodar in the Europa League when he was withdrawn at the half.

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