‘Batshuayi is ready to start’ – Conte backs Chelsea striker

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The Belgian has earned something of a reputation as a super sub for the Blues, but his manager believes he can be more than that

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has backed Michy Batshuayi to make an impression if he is given the opportunity to feature from the outset for the Premier League champions.

The 24-year-old moved to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2016 from Marseille for a fee of £33 million, yet he had a quiet first season in England, despite netting the goal that won the Blues the title against West Brom.

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The Belgium international has shown a good deal more promise in the early weeks of this campaign, scoring seven times in 11 matches, and played a key role off the bench as Chelsea beat Watford last weekend. 

He was given the opportunity to shine from the beginning of the Carabao Cup match against Everton on Wednesday and, though he did not score, he received praise from his manager for his contribution.

“I think he's ready to start, he's ready to come on during the game and have a good impact,” Conte said. “Sometimes if I decide to play with two strikers, maybe I don't know. But it's important to know I can count on him.

Batshuayi GFX
 
“Last season was very difficult for him, but it was also difficult for me.

“I think Michy is improving a lot. He's working very well and he's understanding this football and what I want from him. He's improving, he's improving a lot.

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“I'm very happy. Tonight he didn't score, but he played very well. I don't judge if my striker scores or doesn't score; I judge the player's performance for the team.”

Alvaro Morata has taken up the mantle of leading the Chelsea attack following the departure of Diego Costa for Atletico Madrid, with the Spaniard having firmly established himself as Conte’s No.1 option in attack.

The former Real Madrid and Juventus forward scored seven times in 12 outings since arriving at the club for £58m in the summer from Real Madrid.

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