The table-topping Blues are saying “not so fast,” with reports surfacing Tuesday that Chelsea is set to reject Lille’s loan approach for the 23-year-old striker, according to Jonathan Johnson of the Evening Standard.
That rebuff is insurance should first-choice forward Diego Costa suffer injury, though if a Boxing Day drubbing of Bournemouth is any indication, Batshuayi is not exactly Antonio Conte’s immediate backup plan.
With Costa suspended for the match for an accumulation of yellow cards, Conte opted to play Eden Hazard as a false 9, flanked by Willian and Pedro on the wings. Batshuayi would have to wait until the 93rd minute to make an appearance against the Cherries at Stamford Bridge, with the former Marseille man barely breaking a sweat prior to the final whistle.
Conte was asked of Batshuayi’s progression with the club post-match, telling reporters, “We have to continue to work with him every day to try together to improve him.
“I want to win and every decision I make is because I want to win and I have to take the best decision.”
The Italian added, “Michy Batshuayi is a really good player, but he’s a young player and he’s trying to adapt to this league, this football.”
With just 11 appearances as a substitute following a £33.2-million move from Olympique, Batshuayi’s perpetual spot on Chelsea’s bench has prompted talk of the benefits of a short-term loan switch. After kicking off the season in good form as a sub, posing a powerful and pacey pairing with Costa in a 4-4-2 formation, Batshuayi has seen his minutes dwindle under Conte’s improved 3-4-3 look.
If Chelsea has an excess of riches, Lille is at the opposite end of the resource spectrum.
Caretaker manager Patrick Collot’s lot have just 18 goals in 19 Ligue 1 matches as Les Dogues again flirt with relegation in need of some help up top ahead of the second half of the French campaign.
The north-eastern side sits two points clear of the drop zone ahead of a Jan. 7 French cup visit from Reunion Island minnow AS Excelsior.