Chelsea are entering the season with a new striker in the form of Alvaro Morata and they could yet sign another to compete with the Spanish international. However, Michy Batshauyi is making a case for himself during pre-season with some great performances. The Belgian was underused last season and it appeared that Antonio Conte wasn’t a huge fan of the striker. He arrived with a growing reputation and was regarded as a greater talent than Alexandre Lacazette when he left Ligue 1 for the Premier League. At the age of 22, he was certainly one for the future, but he had the ability to contribute in a bigger way than he did during his debut season for the Blues.
The Belgian international made only one start in the Premier League and totalled a meagre 239 minutes as the Blues eased to the league title. Conte had a superb season tactically and his side thrived in both halves of the pitch. The problem for Batshauyi was that Chelsea weren’t involved in European competition, which meant there was no pressure on them to rotate their squad. Diego Costa was the undisputed first choice striker and even when he missed out, it was Eden Hazard that deputised. The lack of faith in their new signing from Marseille was a surprise, but he never gave up hope and managed to score the goal that won the league title.
His contribution to the overall success was a very limited one, but he did manage to grab himself a defining moment and that underlines his impressive reaction to being left on the sidelines. Many would have sulked or lost confidence, but Batshuayi always had a smile on his face and had his moment in the sun, before finishing the campaign with a brace. The 23-year-old has continued his good form in pre-season with five goals in three matches, yet Conte remains set on bringing in another striker. It is an odd situation and one that makes little sense.
It is an odd situation and one that makes little sense. Batshuayi is already an excellent striker, who has taken the few opportunities granted to him in the first team and he is a great character to have around the dressing room. Although he isn’t a great fit for the system being played by Chelsea, he should be considered a good rotational option to have in the squad, but he isn’t. Several Chelsea fans are expecting him to get more chances this season after his form in the friendlies, but Conte is a stubborn coach. He is unlikely to change his system and Batshuayi doesn’t have the link-up play to thrive in it.
What next for the striker?
Chelsea won’t allow him to leave the club until they sign another striker to support Alvaro Morata. They keep getting linked to Fernando Llorente and if they manage to sign the Swansea striker, Batshuayi will be moved even further down the pecking order. The Belgian may have a future at Chelsea, but he is unlikely to play a prominent role over the next 12 months.
He can’t afford to have another standstill season with the Blues and needs to push for a move, even if only on loan. The World Cup is approaching and he won’t make the Belgium squad if he continues to sit on the bench at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea made a mistake with their last Belgian striker and didn’t give him first-team chances. They risk making the same error again with Batshuayi. The 23-year-old has all the tools to become a Champions League calibre striker, but to reach that level, he needs regular football. A loan move for the coming season would be the best option for him and it would be good for his development if he was to remain in the Premier League. If he did become available, there would be no shortage of interest in his signature.