Michy Batshuayi may have been a Chelsea player for three times longer than he was Borussia Dortmund player (a season and a half, versus half a season), and Chelsea may have plonked down £35m to buy him, which is surely a show of some kind of faith, but the 14 games he played for the German side were more than enough to steal his heart away from us. Well, half of his heart, anyway.
It’s because of the goals, of course: nine of them in twelve games, a combination of Bundesliga and Europa League matches. And the starts, two in the first half of the season for Chelsea, nine in ten league matches for the Black and Yellow.
That’s why, when asked where he’d like to play next campaign, Michy was coy, keeping his options open as any smart professional would.
“Dortmund was a great experience for me. They welcomed me very warmly. I was in a good environment and you could see that on the pitch.
“It was a while since I had played so much. I can’t remember being allowed to play two games in a row at Chelsea. It was good to gain confidence. I don’t have a preference; they’re two beautiful clubs. My focus is on the World Cup right now and I don’t want to think about what happens afterwards.”
Actually, there’s some good news in that quote and it has nothing to do with club loyalty. It’s the bit about the World Cup. Not only is the Batsman one of the 23 Belgians going to Russia, there’s every chance he could play a fair bit.
That’s not the scenario anyone envisioned when it looked like he had broken his ankle against Schalke in April.
Well its not good news for now, my season is probably over, and i wont be able to pay @BVB back for their confidence ... Thank you all the amazing amount of love I received since yesterday. Wishing my teammates the best for the final days. See you soon ❤️ pic.twitter.com/GORkrFz9kk— Michy Batshuayi (@mbatshuayi) April 16, 2018
He was carried off on a stretcher and at the time his chances of making the squad looked bleak, let alone him being fit enough to kick a ball again. But the injury wasn’t a break, it was “only” ligament damage. He came back to Cobham to mend and thankfully, it looks like he’s a quick healer.
“I was scared and in a lot of pain. I feared I had broken my leg. I didn’t even dare look. The next day, the doctors in Germany even told me to forget the World Cup.
“Two, three days later, I could already take normal steps. I’ve done a lot to strengthen my ankle. I’m now running without any worry. I trained here alone for five days. I feel good physically right now. My ankle is fine.
”Now, I want to play games and score goals. Portugal [on June 2] will be an important test for me. I worked hard to be here. I didn’t allow myself any rest.”
-Michy Batshuayi; source: Goal
As for that pesky business of where he’ll play next season, well, the landscape has changed in London, or is about to. Outgoing is the coach who demanded a beefy target man. Incoming is a coach who preaches ball movement, player movement and who likes players with pace.
Whether or not he’ll find Batshuayi a good fit remains to be seen. But with a bushel of Bundesliga goals under his belt, and having rehabilitated not just his ankle but also his reputation, Bats has earned a serious look.
And, maybe, a fresh start. Or ten.