Michy Batshuayi was signed during the summer from Marseille for a fee of £33 million. The young Belgian forward didn’t come into the team with much star status and was obviously a back-up for Diego Costa.
His Chelsea career started with a bang, as he assisted Costa score the match winner against West Ham, and in his second appearance for the club, he got a goal (yet from a substitute appearance) as Chelsea sought a comeback against Watford. That was it from the 23-year-old, as he barely got on the pitch afterwards.
Batshuayi got his chances only in the cup appearances, and he didn’t do much in a tough game against West Ham to convince Conte that he deserves a chance in the league.
By January, it was certain that Batshuayi wasn’t part of Conte’s plans, as he was yet to get a league start, despite an injury and suspension to Costa during that timeframe. The team did well with Hazard playing as a false nine and everyone knew that Batshuayi’s time at Chelsea was in danger. The big question was: Will he be sold or loaned out during the summer?
Fast-forward to the last three games of the season, and Batshuayi achieved a hero’s status at the club. It all started in the game against West Brom that sealed the victory for Chelsea; all of Chelsea star players couldn’t penetrate the defensive wall set by Tony Pulis and it had to take a player who hasn’t started in the Premier League to score the goal that gave Chelsea the title. All of Batshuayi’s fears and worries were over, as that singular achievement was enough for the fans, his teammates and even Antonio Conte to be pleased with him. But it didn’t end there for Batshuayi, he was at hand to score the third goal for the Blues from an unselfish Nathan Ake pass in the next game against Watford.
In the last game of the season, Batshuayi looked an even better striker as he came in as a substitute. He replaced Diego Costa with less than 30 minutes to play and scored a brace in the last two minutes of the game. In a nutshell, that’s the story of Michy Batshuayi, the Batman who changed people’s perception about him with just three games.
He surely did leave an impression on Conte, as the Italian admitted that he could be a weapon in the FA Cup finals against Arsenal.
“I am pleased for him,” Conte said.
“Michy had a very difficult season, it is not easy to arrive in the Premier League because this league is very strong, you find a lot of defenders physically strong and to adapt is not easy.
“But after one year to work and push a lot, he is deserving to have this final and for me for sure he is another weapon for the final.”
The beauty of it all is that Batshuayi has shown us that he is a different kind of striker. He might not have the power and strength of Diego Costa, neither is he good with his back against goal, his hold-up play is still suspect, but even those can be learnt with time. And one thing he has working for him is his ability to be at the right place at the right time. He reminds me of a certain Dutch legend Ruud van Nilsterooy, who took the Premier League by storm with his goalscoring prowess. Batshuayi is just an intelligent striker who knows how to sniff danger like Chicarito; he might not be the most powerful striker, but he’s a lethal weapon.