Michy Batshuayi: Another Chelsea error

Michy Batshuayi has scored seven goals in eight starts for Borussia Dortmund since arriving on loan from Chelsea in the January transfer window.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte had reportedly lost faith in the Belgian international during last season, meaning he was limited to 563 league minutes at the club since the start of 2016/17.

The ever-impressive Dortmund fans have unsurprisingly taken to Batshuayi quickly. Twice he has netted winners in second half injury time already, and his clear joy to be playing regularly is a far cry from the wantaway Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the first half of the campaign.

Albeit only a loan, the arrival of Olivier Giroud in the January window means Batshuayi’s future at Stamford Bridge looks bleak. Chelsea’s striking options would be crowded should the Belgian return from his Bundesliga jaunt as a first team option. That’s before the future of Tammy Abraham is even considered.

A change of manager at Chelsea is probable. It is also a necessity should Batshuayi have a chance of becoming a regular in west London. Even then, though, there are no guarantees that a new manager would have sufficient interest in him to risk upsetting Alvaro Morata by giving consistent starts in the Premier League.

Batshuayi’s prolific start is no surprise. He has long been touted as reliable goal scorer, which was exactly why Chelsea chose to invest £32 million in him. A record of 17 goals in 32 Ligue 1 starts in his final season at Marseille shows us that. As seems to so often be the case, Chelsea are the anomaly in his career.

Prior to that, seven goals in six starts, albeit with 19 substitute appearances, made his first Marseille campaign an acceptable one. His last season with Standard Liege in 2013/14 saw him net an impressive 21 times in 34 league matches.

Still only 24-years-old, this is not the first time that Chelsea have stumbled when handed a highly-talented player in their young twenties. Two that spring to mind, Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamed Salah, are the main contenders for the PFA Player of the Year.

Those age-21, 22 and 23 seasons are when players need regular first team minutes from the start with a healthy dose of patience. Chelsea have been left embarrassed by their ruthlessness with De Bruyne and Salah, now they risk the same with Batshuayi.

It is the trouble with the culture of short-term managers. They are not due to benefit from players who are imperfect now, but can be something special in two or three years’ time.

Batshuayi is a case in point. Sure, he might only turn out to be a decent goal scorer at the level just below the elite clubs or not even reach that standard, but there was an expectation he could become one of the best in the world.

Achieving his undoubtedly high potential is not out of the question. Chelsea could – yet again – be left wondering what might have been.

The Blues risk being held back by their value to nurture talented players from teenagers to world stars.

 

Written by Sam Cox

Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_

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