Following a loan at Crystal Palace during the second-half of last season, Michy Batshuayi will return to Chelsea this summer, competing alongside the likes of Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud to be the number one striker heading into the 2019-20 season. All will aim to give the suggested new Head Coach, Frank Lampard a dilemma regarding who should lead the line in the mouth-watering opening fixture against Manchester United on August 11th. That, however, should not be Michy.

It is fair to say that Michy’s loan spell at eventual Copa Del Rey winners, Valencia, was disastrous during the first half of last season, but he did score a respectable five goals in 11 Premier League appearances under the guidance of Roy Hodgson. The 25-year-old Belgian should build on this form and capitalise on the off-the-field issues. With Chelsea set to adhere to a two-window transfer ban, then Michy, arguably, has the best chance of making a name for himself at the Club knowing that he cannot be replaced in the immediate future.

Michy, undoubtedly, divides opinion. Irrespective of what side of the debate you fall on, he edged himself into Chelsea folklore after scoring the historic goal at the Hawthorns. This secured Chelsea’s fifth Premier League crown. However, his social media presence raises the concern that he is slightly immature and his lack of quality when starting has intensified legitimate doubts about his long-term future at the Club. He only completed 90 minutes for Chelsea once in the Premier League in Antonio Conte’s second and final season at the Club. This was his last league appearance before a move to Borussia Dortmund. He was behind Diego Costa in the pecking order after making the move from Marseille in the summer of 2016.

Michy is talented – his record for the Belgian national team emphasises this, averaging one goal in every two appearances– but his best role at Chelsea in this current climate is to be an impact substitute. He can use his pace to exploit tired defences, as seen by his 80thminute goal against Watford in August 2016 and the historic goal against West Brom in May 2017. Michy provides a different option for potential new Head Coach, Frank Lampard. Realistically, he would not have a future under Maurizio Sarri as his philosophy was centred around possession football. Compared to Sarri, Frank is a more pragmatic manager and is not defined by a single philosophy. Sometimes, desperate times calls for desperate measures.  Batshuayi could easily profit from a long ball from David Luiz; it all depends upon his efficiency and composure in front of goal.

Chelsea will have to juggle the Premier League, Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the domestic cup competitions so Michy’s time will arrive. To have any chance of being Chelsea’s leading striker, he has to capitalise on every opportunity presented to him, which he failed to do under Antonio Conte. This could be a five minute cameo performance where Chelsea are cruising to a 3-0 victory at home, or the last 30 minutes where a tie is on a knife-edge.  His first Premier League goal of the 2017/18 season did not arrive until October and was substituted prior to the 60-minute mark in two of his three Premier League starts. The reason being was that he failed to score. Adding goals to his tally will make it extremely difficult for the new head-coach to ignore. Despite being 25 years old, Michy is still raw, but it is the next few seasons which will define his career as a professional football and could be refined into a proven player with Frank at the helm.

 

Chris Bradford

 

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