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Who is Michy Batshuayi, Chelsea's €40m signing?

Much like voters on the day after, with the news that Chelsea are gazumping all other suitors, you might be frantically googling this morning just who Michy Batshuayi might be (beyond just his status as a good signing on FIFA or FM).  Let us save you some trouble.

Michy Batshuayi is a 22-year-old Belgian striker of Congolese descent, currently playing professionally at Olympique Marseille.  Actually, at this very minute he's at Euro 2016 with the Belgian national team, for whom he just scored his third international goal (in just six appearances) against Hungary in the Round of 16 knockout win.  He's one of the more highly sought after transfer targets on the market this summer especially as OM have already confirmed that they're not expecting him to return to the club this summer and will instead use the (considerable) funds from his sale to balance the books.

Born in Brussels, Batshuayi burst onto the scene with Standard Liege while still a teenager, eventually leading them to the Belgian league title in 2013-14 as a 21-year-old.  That summer, with most of Europe already watching (including Spurs, who continue to watch with envious eyes), he moved to Marseille for just €6m.  His goalscoring record in the Jupiler League got him onto the provisional Belgium squad for the 2014 World Cup, though he did not make the final cut.

His career at Marseille got off to a slow start, as he was stuck behind an in-form Andre Pierre Gignac for much of the season.  Despite only 6 starts in the league (from 26) appearances, Batshuayi still managed 9 goals.  As shown on the radial graph above, his per-90 numbers were certainly worth paying attention to.  This season, despite OM's struggles, Batshuayi was a constant source of goals.  In fact, his numbers were some of the best for young strikers anywhere in the top European leagues.

Being able to play either as a lone forward or in a two-striker system could pay dividends for the kid, especially if Antonio Conte does indeed give the latter configuration a try when he takes over later this summer.  In the second half of last season at Marseille, Batshuayi was usually paired with on-loan Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher and they proved a highly complementary pair.  Fletcher only scored twice in his half-season loan, but Batshuayi was Ligue 1's fourth highest goalscorer, just behind Edinson Cavani, Alexandre Lacazette, and the inimitable Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  He added roughly half as many assists as goals scored as well.

"He (Fletcher) and I are complementary. He's not a stereotypical British player who plays with his head. He's strong on the ground, technical."

-Michy Batshuayi; source: Le Journal di Dimanche via ESPN

Michy, meet Diego.  Diego, meet Michy.

Batshuayi has grown a couple inches and put on several pounds of muscle over the past couple years, adding to his already formidable physical skills.  He's supremely quick, agile, and often two-footed.  He's had a reputation in prior years for being a bit selfish, but that's not necessarily a bad quality to have in a striker (and, as mentioned earlier, he still gets plenty of assists).  At least one report claims that he was groomed first and foremost on the streets of Brussels, and while that carries with it a connotation of being a bad boy with a sometimes bad attitude, it also adds that impossible(?)-to-teach street-smart quality to his game as well.

Comparisons to Lukaku* will be inevitable**, but Batshuayi strikes me as a slightly more well-rounded player despite the slightly older Belgian striker carrying a tremendous advantage in terms of professional matches played.  With a good first touch, good movement, and great awareness for such a young age, the sky's the limit for Batshuayi.

* Rule No.1: Do NOT cut the hair.  Rule No.2:  See Rule No.1.
** Not to mention a certain Didier Drogba, who also arrived from Marseille for a similarly large fee


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