Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has hailed the improvement shown by Michy Batshuayi and says the striker will have more opportunities to shine this season.
Belgium international Batshuayi scored the goal that wrapped up the Premier League title for the Blues at West Brom in May but was restricted to just one start in the top flight over the course of their triumphant campaign.
The 24-year-old matched that tally on the opening day of this term when he started the shock 3-2 defeat to Burnley, and the club’s involvement in the Champions League could see him afforded more game time.
Conte says Batshuayi – who grabbed a dramatic late winner over Atletico Madrid last month – is more than deserving of an increased role as part of his forward line after adapting well to English football.
“If you compare Michy with last season, he has improved a lot and he understands this league because it is not simple,” the Italian told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
“He understands our style of football but he is another young player and he is working very hard to improve. This season he is finding many opportunities to play. In the Champions League, in the league, to come on during the game, to start the game.
“And if you remember last season he had few opportunities to play, but this season he is playing a lot. The most important thing is to show he is improving because, also don’t forget, as a striker, I can utilise [Eden] Hazard.
“Last season we played two games with Hazard as a number nine, with Willian and Pedro.
“If I see a game where this is the solution I am ready to do that again, but Michy is deserving to have opportunities to show he can play.”
Conte revealed on Friday that N’Golo Kante could be sidelined for up to four weeks with a hamstring injury and, with fellow midfielder Danny Drinkwater also out, the former Juventus coach is considering his options to support Tiemoue Bakayoko and Cesc Fabregas in the middle.
David Luiz is seen as the most likely contender to step up from defence, with Conte effectively ruling Antonio Rudiger out of a positional change.
“I don’t think he has the right characteristics,” he said of the Germany international. “Andreas Christensen and David Luiz can have these characteristics.
“Toni is very good to play like a defender and he could be a good wing back, but not to play in midfield in my opinion.”
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