COMMENT By Harry Sykes
It’s been an incredibly tough summer for Antonio Conte, when Chelsea should really be flying high as defending Premier League champions.
The manager has gone on record to say he’s not happy with the business Chelsea have done over the summer.
He seems to be most upset about Nemanja Matic’s move to Man United and his mood won’t have improved if he watched his former player in the Super Cup against Real Madrid – he was United’s best performer by a considerable distance.
Conte was quoted in ESPN as saying Matic was a “great loss” to Chelsea, and it does seem like one of the oddest moves of the summer.
One player Conte won’t be losing much sleep over is Diego Costa, who looks set to leave, although even his situation is far from clear with Atletico Madrid currently banned from signing players for six months.
He could still leave for Atletico and be loaned out somewhere for six months and that looks like the most likely option.
However, it leaves Conte with just the untried and untested Alvaro Morata up front.
Step forward the undoubtedly talented Belgian striker, Michy Batshuayi.
Batshuayi hasn’t had a great time of it since his move from Marseille for a whopping £35million last summer.
After scoring 33 goals in 78 appearances in Ligue 1, Batshuayi came to Cheslea full of promise and was snuffed out by the goals of Costa.
Yes, he played 29 times for Chelsea last season, but from 20 Premier League appearances he was only afforded one start.
He scored in that game in the middle of a mini-tear at the end of the season when he grabbed four goals in three games to prove that he could be the Chelsea striker of the future.
Then rumours circulated that he would be leaving on loan – possibly back to Marseille – but a report in France Football has recently claimed he’s staying at Stamford Bridge for another season.
And that’s significant for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the 2018 World Cup in Russia. If Batshuayi wants to be a part of Roberto Martinez’ plans for the summer he needs to play more than a bit-part over the next nine months.
Either he knows something we don’t, or he’s just supremely confident that he will make an impact at Chelsea next season – either scenario is good for Conte.
Secondly, he knows that Morata is untested as the main striker at a big club.
Morata was used as an impact sub as much as a starting striker at Real Madrid last season.
His 15 goals in 26 La Liga games for Real came from just 14 starts and no one knows how he will cope as the lead attacker week in, week out.
And Batshuayi has talent and youth. In fact, at 23 he’s currently coming into the peak of his career and he should be playing every week – he’s that good.
If he can prove himself to Conte early on, and start this season as he ended last, he could give Morata a problem and solve another for Conte.
And make himself into a Chelsea legend at the same time.
In other Chelsea news, three more players are set to arrive before the end of the summer transfer window.