Chelsea winger Christian Atsu has claimed that Malaga was always his first choice as a loan destination, despite the winger himself previously saying he was off to Levante. Malaga's sporting director, Francesc Arnau, hailed the arrival of the Ghana star and backed him to prove his mettle in La Liga, filling the gap left by the departure of key player Nordin Amrabat to Watford.
Espanyol, Rayo Vallecano Malaga and Levante were all reportedly interested in securing Atsu's services on loan during the current transfer window after the player was recalled by Chelsea following an unsuccessful spell at Bournemouth. He had also failed to stand out last season in a sojourn at Everton.
The winger said to BBC World Service that Levante would be his next destination, suggesting that everything was already agreed.
"I wished the Chelsea players good luck for the game and told them that I was moving to Levante," Atsu said. "I'm going to Spain. It's a new challenge and I'm going to work hard at it."
But Chelsea revealed a U-Turn on 15 January, confirming Atsu had agreed to move to Malaga instead.
Asked about those dealings by the Spanish reporters during his presentation with his new side, he explained: "I had clubs interested in me. I believe Malaga are a big and fantastic club. They have great fans. I have been here before when I was at Porto. I think that I will really fit in and will be happy here. That's why I chose Malaga.
"It is my decision. I took Malaga. It is my choice. I cannot explain anything more than that. Malaga were my choice," he insisted. "I told my [Chelsea] teammates I am going to Spain but I didn't mention the club..."
The club's sporting director also refused to expand on the issue, just saying he hopes Atsu can help the side cope with the departure of Amrabat, after Waford recently signed the Moroccan forward by meeting his €8m (£6m, $8.6m) release clause.
"If Christian is here it is his own decision and our will is to have him. He comes to fill the gap we have in the flanks following the departure of Amrabat. He gives us speed in the flanks and we hope he will adapt easily to La Liga and find the level he couldn't find during his previous loan spells at other clubs," Arnau said. "He comes to give us the speed we had lost with Nordin but don't compare him with Nordin because they are very different."
Atsu expressed his hopes of coping with the challenge and finally get the playing time he could not find at Everton and Bournemouth.
"I don't know much about Amrabat. I am a fast player, also technical and hard-working. I can play in many positions upfront. My best is probably the right wing," Atsu said. "I didn't play a lot of games [at Bournemouth and Everton] and my objective at this club is to give my best, to help the club to move forward. Malaga are a great club and we can do better."