Antonio Conte has backed Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi to significantly improve when he comes to terms with the physicality of the Premier League.
Batshuayi hasn’t begun a top flight game for his club since his £33.1million summer move from Marseille and is in line for a first start since October when Chelsea host Peterbrorough in the FA Cup on Sunday.
The 23-year-old has been the subject of speculation over a loan departure in January, though Conte has insisted he wants the young striker to fight for his place in the squad, and the Blues are plotting a swoop for Fernando Llorente as they look to add support for star striker Diego Costa.
Conte’s decision to field Eden Hazard as a false nine rather than start Batshuayi when Costa was suspended for the Boxing Day game against Bournemouth seemed to speak volumes of the Belgian’s role in the squad yet his manager sees a bright future ahead if his summer signing can get used to the physicality of the English game.
“Everyone is used to playing, but when you arrive in a great team like Chelsea normally you have to fight to find a place in the starting XI,” Conte said. “Michy, I think, is finding a lot of difficulty to adapt to this league and this football, because this football is very physical and it’s not easy.
“Michy is only 23, he’s a young player who can improve a lot. In front of him there is Costa, and obviously he’s having a bit of difficulty to play. But he has the time to show me that he deserves to play. Sunday will be important for him.”
Batshuayi has been linked with a loan move, with reports claiming that Swansea may take the striker to the Liberty if they were to allow Llorente to move to Stamford Bridge.
However Conte has been consistent in his statements that he does not want Batshuayi to leave and reaffirmed his belief that, after Oscar and Mikel John Obi’s moves to China, he hoped not to lose any more players.
“Now I’d like to keep all the players because I think we are building the right spirit with these players. It’s important to continue and to improve on the pitch, outside to keep this spirit very good between us.
“Now it’s important for him to be concentrated on Sunday’s game. It’s important to see the present and not too far [in the future], to be focused, to play very well and to show me that now he’s [adapted] to our idea of football.”
Chelsea fans celebrate as Nathan Ake set to return from Bournemouth [Tweets]
Is Nathan Ake heading back to Chelsea?
Strong reports have emerged on Saturday that Chelsea are to recall Nathan Ake from Bournemouth to aid their Premier League title push.
Ake has been outstanding with Bournemouth this season, cementing his place as a Premier League star in the making.
With distinctive dreadlocks that have seen comparisons with Ruud Gullit, Ake has shown he has both the defensive and attacking qualities to impress at Chelsea as well.
Ake suits the 3-4-3
Ake will give Chelsea boss Antonio Conte a number of options if he returns to Stamford Bridge.
The youngster can play anywhere in a back three or on the left, in place of Marcos Alonso.
He was not part of the Bournemouth squad for their FA Cup match against Millwall on Saturday and Chelsea fans have been celebrating the news.
After the defeat at Tottenham, Chelsea will be keen to improve their squad options as they look to hold onto or improve their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Izzy Brown: Chelsea prospect moves to Huddersfield
In official news, Chelsea prospect Izzy Brown has joined Championship side Huddersfield Town on loan for the rest of the season.
The England under-20 international scored three times in 20 appearances in his recent spell at Rotherham United.
As reported by Sky Sports:
“The 19-year-old now makes the move across Yorkshire to the John Smith’s Stadium, with Terriers’ head coach David Wagner thrilled to have signed a young talent comfortable on either wing or in central attacking areas of the pitch.
“Just like his teammate Kasey Palmer, Izzy is another big, big English talent and it is great that Chelsea was so keen to send him to us. Thanks to them for all their help in making this transfer happen so quickly,” Wagner told the club’s official website.
“He is a very exciting attacking player who can make things happen for us and we are very excited to have join our squad for the rest of the season.
“We have had a few injury problems in the wide positions, with Sean Scannell needing an operation and Joe Lolley only just returning from injury. Given this, bringing Izzy to the club is an important January move for us.”
Brown made his first top-flight appearance at West Brom, where he became the second youngest Premier League player of all time at just 16 years and 117 days old.”