Michy Batshuayi, who is referred to as “Batsman” affectionately by the Chelsea faithful, has had a rocky time in West London. The Belgian striker was signed from Marseille in the summer of 2016, after he scored 23 goals in all competitions in the 2015/16 season. He was Antonio Conte’s first signing as Chelsea manager. Vincent Lebrune (club president of Marseille) in 2015 openly stated that “There is not a single top 15 club which is not interested in Batshuayi.” Rightly so, as he had dominated the Ligue 1 at the tender age of 22, and seemed hungry for more. The desire to succeed oozed from his veins. He also had all the attributes to make it at the top: decent pace, physically strong and deadly precision.
While a move to London seemed likely with West Ham as well as Crystal Palace placing bids, he chose to move to Stamford Bridge as soon as the option was on the table. It was obvious that he would be an understudy to the fiery Diego Costa, and exceeded expectations initially. On his first Chelsea appearance, he set up the Spaniards late winner at home to West Ham. He scored his first Premier League goal in the following game, while also grabbing a brace in his first start for the club in the EFL Cup. These performances, along with the common link of the French club Marseille brought about comparisons of Chelsea legend Didier Drogba.
However, this explosive start soon faded away as he managed just 6 more top-flight goals throughout the course of the season. The most important goal- and arguably his most iconic in a Chelsea shirt- was the late winner away to West Brom which saw Chelsea seal the title in a memorable season under the Italian head coach Conte. The following season saw the departure of Costa following a bust-up with the manager, and it looked like Batshuayi could grasp this opportunity and challenge new signing Alvaro Morata for the starting spot. However, once again, he failed to impress the manager and eventually left London for the Bundesliga, joining Borussia Dortmund on a six-month loan deal. The Black and Yellow needed a star man to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and up stepped the Batsman. He scored 9 goals in all competitions for Die Borussen, staking his claim to return to Chelsea in a more prominent role than before.
However, he was deemed surplus to requirements with the arrival of Olivier Giroud, and this time his loan took him to Spain, joining Valencia. After managing just 1 goal in 15 appearances for the club, he moved back to London and joined Crystal Palace, on loan once again. Here, he managed 5 goals in 11 appearances and put in some promising performances, linking up well with their star man Wilfred Zaha. Frank Lampard decided to keep him at the club this summer, breaking his seemingly endless chain of loans, and hence freeing him from the infamous ‘loan army’. However, one could argue that this decision was largely due to the transfer ban which was in place, meaning we could not register any new players in the window.
This season, in my opinion, was his last chance to capitalise on his chances. With all our strikers of similar quality, albeit different playing styles, the starting striker spot was wide open. One striker though, has shone this season and put in some fantastic performances, while showing immense mentality, and the other two have been unable to grab their opportunities to prove their worth to remain at Cobham. The Belgian has managed just 5 top-flight goals this season in all competitions and has not been very reliable coming off the bench to score in clutch situations.
Michy Batshuayi’s legacy at Chelsea Football Club will be defined by 3 goals; all of them late winners away from home; all of them coming off the bench, and all of them in black (3rd kit of the respective seasons). The first one against West Brom to clinch the 2016/17 title, the second in Madrid against Atletico to inflict their first ever defeat at Wanda Metropolitano, and the third one this season away to Ajax. While cherishing these memories, we should also focus on the current situation, and as it stands, at the age of 26, it’s unlikely that he will improve massively. The recent FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest was one of his worst games in a Chelsea kit, where he missed 3 big chances. In a game where he should be making the most of his opportunities, he failed to take the simple chances which fell his way. In my opinion, it is time to sell him now, as we can get a sizeable fee for him, as he is still only 26. This opinion is formed on the basis that Chelsea do sign a striker this window to compete with Tammy Abraham. Else, he should stay at the club till the summer in a backup role. Loaning him now would do no good to him or us, however loan with the option to buy seems like a reasonable deal for all parties involved, including the clubs interested in signing him.