With few exceptions, Chelsea strikers in the 2000s have had a bad habit of not living up to their transfer fees and wages. Michy Batshuayi is just the latest in a long line.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list: Álvaro Morata, Fernando Torres, Mateja Kezman, Andrey Shevchenko, Hernán Crespo, Claudio Pizarro, Alexandre Pato, Radamel Falcao, Adrian Mutu, Chris Sutton (signed 1999; close enough!), and that’s just off the top of my head.
We could argue all day about some of the names on that list — expectations are subjective after all — but Batshuayi isn’t one of them. He’s had four years to live up to his €40m transfer: 8 goals in 48 Premier League appearances (5 starts) isn’t good enough.
Let that sink in for a moment. The man’s been deemed good enough to start just five (5!) times in the league for Chelsea by three managers combined since 2016. You could say that maybe he would’ve done better if he had started more often — he did make 9 starts in 11 appearances while on loan at Crystal Palace for six months, scoring five times — but if he couldn’t convince Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri, or Frank Lampard of his qualities outside of a few flashes, there’s not much point in blaming circumstances.
I don’t mean to be harsh on the kid. He’s undoubtedly a fun person and his social media game is world class. Alas, that’s not helping on the pitch or when it comes to his Chelsea career or the business of winning.
Batshuayi’s widely expected to be jettisoned this summer, and was so even before the Timo Werner transfer news — he’s barely featured in the two training matches, including the intra-squad scrimmage — but recent reports have made it quite clear that anything other than another loan would be surprising. Batshuayi’s on (very) high wages as he enters the final year of his contract. Belgian outlet HLN (via Sport Witness) mince no words, saying that Chelsea are “keen” to sell but he “barely represents resale value” while The Athletic are a bit gentler in saying that the club will “struggle” to get rid of him, especially if we want to recoup some of our investment. Palace are apparently not interested in a reunion, Newcastle may not be getting their new owners, and West Ham have thought better of things as well. Options outside the Premier League, be that in France or Germany, are severely limited by finances.
All that said, at 26 going on 27, Batshuayi’s still at an age where, if he can find a good situation for himself, he could have a productive and useful career in the upper echelons of football, and maybe even for his national team. Finding that situation however won’t be easy.