Antonio Conte has praised his “fantastic” striker Michy Batshuayi – even though he has yet to start a Premier League match since a £33million summer move.
The Belgium striker could finally get his chance against Bournemouth on Boxing Day, with top scorer Diego Costa suspended.
But it is a bizarre situation as former Marseille man Batshuayi has been left frustrated without a look-in, and that has alerted the likes of West Ham who tried to sign him last summer.
Chelsea boss Conte has admitted the 23-year-old’s all-round game still needs work but praised his efforts.
Conte said: “Michy’s attitude, his behaviour, have been fantastic. He wants to improve his quality. Technical quality, physical quality.
“We are working a lot with him on tactical aspects.
“But he’s showing great commitment, great work-rate during the training sessions, great passion. For sure, he wants to play and it’s not easy when you have Costa in front of you.
“Above all this, Diego is playing fantastic football and scoring a lot of goals. But I repeat: it’s important for Michy to continue to work, to continue to improve. I’m sure his moment will arrive.”
Conte believes Batshuayi can learn from 28-year-old Costa – a true compliment for the reformed bad boy striker. Conte added: “Every single player, every forward, has different characteristics.
“The players are different. Michy is different, if you compare him to Diego.
“Above all because, first of all, he’s a younger player. He can improve a lot. To stay close to Diego, you can learn a lot to improve your experience and improve your skills. But to have the training sessions with great players improves you.
“In this case I prefer not to put more pressure on the players because it’s no good to do that.
“If I decide to put Michy in the starting XI, he is ready to play. It’s not important to talk and put more pressure on him.
“He must do what he knows, what we are doing in the training sessions. If Michy is in, it’s because he deserves to be.”
Mikel Should Decide Future In January – Babanginda
Ex international, Tijani Babanginda has urged Super Eagles skipper, John Mikel Obi to make a drastic decision on his next move with Premier League side, Chelsea during the January transfer window.
The Nigerian international has fallen out of favour under manager, Antonio Conte since taking over Chelsea last summer and has yet to taste any action.
Despite claiming that the former Lyn Oslo midfielder still remains in his plan, the Italian tactician still prefers the combination of Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante in the heart of the midfield.
However, with the January transfer window just few days away, Chindo as he’s popularly known amongst football fans in Nigeria, told Soccernet.com.ng that Mikel has the choice to either remain in Chelsea or leave the team in January.
“Nobody can decide for Mikel Obi as far as Chelsea is concerned because he’s not a baby. Despite the fact that the present Chelsea coach, Antonio Conte has refused to consider him in his starting line up, I still believe Mikel has the key in deciding his future during the January transfer window,” Babanginda told Soccernet.com.ng
“It is not a matter of whether he wants to leave for a big money in China or Qater but then, I know Mikel, he’s a player that knows what is best for him. There is no argument that the duo of Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante are doing a near perfect job for Chelsea and it will be difficult for a coach to change a winning team.”
Pedro: Winning in Premier League is tougher than at Barcelona
Antonio Conte’s side have won every domestic outing since September to sit six points clear on the table, with the Spaniard himself registering three goals and five assists along the way.
Although Pedro took home 20 trophies during his 200+ appearances with Barcelona, he believes the current form of the Blues means more due to the nature of the English top flight.
“It’s not new for me, but it’s difficult in this league. It’s different here,” he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
“At Barcelona, it’s normal to win most of the games and sometimes it’s too easy.
“But the Premier League is very competitive and strong, and for this reason, 11 wins is a significant achievement.
“It’s very different in Spain. Barca have many opportunities all the time to win matches, which in England is very difficult because the challenges are greater.”
Conte has surprised many Premier League observers with his ability to turn around a Chelsea side in a matter of months that had looked to be crumbling this time last year.
Pedro says that the Italian has reignited the confidence around Stamford Bridge that another title is within their reach.
“It was a difficult situation for everyone, for the club, the team and the coach. There were a lot of problems, but this season is different,” added the Spaniard.
“He put trust and belief in all of the players and then we started winning matches. He put the trust, the belief in all of us that we could win matches, that we could win the League.
“I would love to win the Premier League because it’s the strongest league in the world and I think that would be something really good for my career.”