The manager of former Chelsea and Newcastle star Christian Atsu has denied reports that the footballer has been rescued from the rubble of a destroyed building after a huge earthquake in Turkey.
Several reports on Monday evening claimed Atsu, who was reportedly missing alongside Hatayspor sporting director Taner Savut, had been found alive, with Portuguese outlet A Bola saying he had suffered ‘injuries to his right foot and breathing difficulties’.
These reports, however, remain unconfirmed by Hatayspor, with manager Mustafa Özat and team-mate Kerim Alici seeming to suggest that the two remained in trouble.
More than 4,100 people have been killed and thousands more injured after the catastrophic earthquake that rocked Turkey and Syria overnight, flattening neighbourhoods while families were asleep.
Atsu was part of the Newcastle team which won promotion back to the Premier League in 2017 after joining on loan for the season from Chelsea, and later completed a permanent move.
A post on the club’s official Twitter account said: ‘Praying for some positive news, @ChristianAtsu20.’
Christian Atsu, pictured here playing for Chelsea in 2016, was reportedly trapped under the rubble of a building in Turkey
Thousands of people are known to have died after two massive earthquakes and dozens of aftershocks caused buildings to collapse in Turkey on Monday
A rescue worker walks next to collapsed buildings in Antakya, Turkey, on Monday night following the earthquake
Local media reported that the 31-year-old, pictured here playing for Newcastle in 2017, was alive but trapped under rubble earlier in the day
More than 3,500 people have been killed and thousands more injured following the quake which hit Turkey and Syria – with a second 7.5 quake hitting several hours after the first
Atsu had scored a dramatic late winner for his club on Sunday night as they beat Kasimpasa 1-0 at their stadium in Hayat. It is reported all players and staff from Kasimpasa were unhurt in the earthquake.
The 31-year-old joined Chelsea in 2013 but never played a competitive minute for the club as he was sent out on loan for a number of seasons including to Everton and Newcastle.
Though he made just five appearances at Everton, he impressed enough on loan at Newcastle to make a permanent move to the Magpies.
In total he made 107 appearances for the club, scoring eight goals, before joining Saudi side Al-Raed in 2021.
Newcastle have posted on social media with a photo of Atsu when he was at the club, saying they were ‘praying for some good news’.
Atsu was in action on Sunday for Hatayspor, scoring a goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time in a 1-0 victory over Kasimpasa.
In a message after the game, he wrote: ‘Important win for the team. Happy to be on the scoresheet.’
The earthquake hit hard in Kahramanmaras, where Hatayspor are based.
Hatayspor player Onur Ergun posted an Instagram story in response to earlier reports that he is missing to say they were incorrect.
‘Thank you very much to everyone who called and asked,’ the midfielder said. ‘The news is not true. I’m fine.
Newcastle have posted a message on social media in which they are ‘praying for good news’
Atsu’s most recent message on Twitter followed his club’s 1-0 victory on Sunday in which the 31-year-old scored the winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time
Atsu also played for Chelsea though he spent the most of his time at the club out on loan
A search and rescue mission is ongoing to find any people that are trapped under the rubble
‘I can’t answer the phone because there is a network problem. Get well soon to all of us.’
Turkish keeper Ahmed Turkaslan of Yeni Malatyaspor is also said to be missing.
The clubs assistant coach İlhan Var said: ‘We have not found our goalkeeper Ahmet Eyup Turkaslan yet. There are no signs right now. His wife came out and described where he could be.’
The wife of Hatayspor manager Volkan Demirel shared a tearful message after a massive aftershock with a magnitude of 7.5 hit Turkey’s south hours after the original quake.
‘Hatay is in a very bad way,’ Zeynep Sever Demirel said in a video shared on social media. A number of her friends were believed to still be trapped under rubble, with fears that more footballers could also be affected by the disaster.
According to Haber Global, footballers from the Marasspor team may have been staying in a hotel destroyed by the quake.
Among the other Turkish athletes believed to be missing are 14 volleyball players from the Hatay team, handball international Cemal Kutahya and Hatayspor coach Savas Yukse.
Olympic gold medallist Taha Akgul said around 30 and 40 wrestlers from a team based in Kahramanmaras were also trapped under the rubble.
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