Opinion: Will this be a defining season at Chelsea for Michy Batshuayi?
(Getty Images - Hiroki Watanabe)

Michy Batshuayi will be battling for a place in Frank Lampard’s starting eleven alongside fellow frontmen Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud.

The leading striker role is up for contention at Chelsea and the 25-year-old is preparing for the most defining season of his career.

Batshuayi is entering his fourth season with the Blues and has previously struggled to cement himself in the starting eleven. In search of game time he has spent loan periods at Borussia Dormund, Valencia and Crystal Palace.

The opportunity is there

Since becoming Chelsea manager, Lampard has openly spoken about the opportunity available to grasp Chelsea’s leading striker position with both hands.

Following victory over Barcelona in pre-season, he told Chelsea FC: “There is competition and people keep talking a lot about it. They all need to rise to the competition and show they can be a striker for Chelsea.”

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Batshuayi has a great statistical backing to show for himself in this race. Having scored five goals in nine starts when on loan at Palace during the latter stages of last season, the 25-year-old has shown a potential to become a proven Premier League goalscorer.

Goals have also come on the international stage for Batshuayi. He scored 13 goals in 26 appearances for Belgium, four of which were scored in major international tournaments over seven matches.

Batshuayi’s Role

This season Batshuayi will be looking cement himself as Chelsea’s leading striker, but will be up against a home-grown prospect and World Cup winner.

Lampard utilised a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 diamond while at Derby County and on select occasions in pre-season. The latter formation requires two strikers to lead the line which puts the Belgian in good stead.

The other favourable formations at Lampard’s disposal utilise one striker. This role will require hold up play, forward runs and an aerial presence in the box - qualities which Batshuayi has.

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Batshuayi is nor the oldest or youngest of the three candidates and is in prime physical condition as well as holding a degree of experience.

The First Season

Chelsea signed Batshuayi in July 2016 for £33.2 million from Marseille which became Antonio Conte’s first signing as a Blues manager.

However, the Belgian could not find himself a regular space in Conte’s plans with Diego Costa at the helm of the Italian’s attack.

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The forward lacked minutes but managed to influence games when possible. In the opening pair of Premier League fixtures, he had registered a goal and an assist, each of which secured wins for the Blues.

Over the next 36 league fixtures Batshuayi would only play more than fifteen minutes per game on four occasions, two of which in the final pair of matches.

Deprived of game time, the Belgian attacker was determined to put his stamp on a greatly successful season for the club. 

He was once again brought on as a substitute, this time versus West Bromwich Albion with fourteen minutes on the clock. A goal would win the game and win Chelsea the Premier League title, and a goal is what Batshuayi provided as he prodded a left-footed shot past Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster.

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Loan Stints

The 25-year-old has had three loan stints in the last two seasons at Dortmund, Valencia and Palace. 

His first loan was at Dortmund which began halfway through the 2017/18 season.

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Batshuayi went on to score seven goals in ten Bundesliga matches and averaged 84 minutes per game. His fast start however in Germany came to an unfortunate end due to injury versus Schalke.

The Belgian began the following season on loan at Spanish side Valencia but struggled to hit the ground running. He could only manage one goal in 15 league games and went winless in his first six appearances.

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Batshuayi soon returned to Chelsea in January 2019  in search of minutes, but not at Stamford Bridge. Roy Hodgson came calling and the Blues loanee spent the remainder of the 2018/19 season at Selhurst Park

Five goals in eleven matches, a 64% win ratio and an average of 69 minutes a game later, the 25-year-old had rounded off his time at Palace and for the 2018/19 season.

Lampard will be hoping that league form can continue into his first season in charge at Chelsea, which is set to be a very interesting one for all those in West London.

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