Part of what makes a big football team is the ability to attract and have more than one big name player in all the positions available in the team. The purpose of this is to make sure that the team continues to maintain good football, at the highest level.
Over the summer transfer window, we saw a couple of reinforcements at Chelsea, in midfield, defence and attack, with the likes of Kante, Alonso, Luiz and Batshuayi coming into Chelsea. The first 10 games of the league has seen them all feature for the club, which is good, considering that these guys are all good players, and were acquired for hefty sums. However, of all four of them, only Michy Batshuayi has had cameo appearances and has spent a lot of time on the bench. He has not started a game in the league, and his few appearances were as a substitute. This development is not surprising, if you understand how things work in football. You do not replace a player of influence in a team, who is also playing very well with another, unless there’s an absolutely good enough reason to.
With all his fineness in the field of play, Batshuayi has not started in the league because he has Costa to contend with. Since his arrival at Chelsea, the Spain international has been in great goal scoring form. His performances this season have even been more eye-catching— 8 goals in 10 league games, putting him ahead of the pack in the league. A run of form like that, coupled with the fact that he’s a very influential player, makes replacing Costa all the more difficult for Conte. So, it’s easy to understand the dilemma the man has had to face. Obviously, he bought Bats to use him, but he can’t use him at the expense of a better player. However, I feel that the situation must be handled with care, as it’s more delicate than obvious. Already, the likes of Oscar, Ivanovic, Terry and Fabregas seem alienated from the first team, it would not augur well to add more, especially a player as good and important as Bats to the list. This is to avoid incidences of unrest in the team. Bats was also acquired for a big fee and looks like a big talent; it’d be a shame to see that languishing on the bench, week in, week out. So, the onus lies on Conte to give deserving players a chance. Bats has proven in the few games he’s played that he too can get us the goals, so it’s a matter of using him and Costa rightly, to avoid any rifts.
It’s not enough to feature him in the FA Cup and League Cup games, he should also get good nods in the EPL. I’m not saying he hasn’t either, because I know he’s already managed a number of substitute appearances, what I’m suggesting is that those appearances should come with more consistency, as it’s a necessary sacrifice for maintaining the friendly atmosphere important to keeping the team’s momentum going in the right direction. It’s also important that he be given more game time, so he wouldn’t lose his confidence. An injury can happen to Costa, and we’d need Batshuayi to lead the line; if he’s low in confidence, then we’d be in trouble.
But then, you cannot blame Conte; Costa is on fire.