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Antonio Conte reportedly “ripped into his squad” following Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday and is planning to bring in a replacement for Michy Batshuayi in January, who could be sent out on loan.
According to the Telegraph‘s Matt Law, the Italian was “in a dark mood” after the match and “launched a full-scale inquest into what went wrong,” which he believes was his players “taking their foot off the gas.”
Conte also has serious concerns over the size of his squad, all the more so following hamstring injuries to Victor Moses, Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kante in the last fortnight, and he wants to bring in another striker in January with Batshuayi potentially to be loaned out at the same time.
As Goal’s Nizaar Kinsella demonstrated, the Belgian put in a woeful performance at Selhurst Park:
Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella
Batshuayi had 0 shots, 69.2% passing accuracy and 19 touches in his first away league start for Chelsea. #CRYCHE
He was substituted in the 57th minute as a result and expressed his anger at himself as he was substituted.
However, while the striker’s showing was subpar, so too were the performances of his team-mates as they lost to a side that hadn’t even mustered a goal in their first seven matches, per Kinsella and football journalist Dan Levene:
Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella
Hazard had the lowest passing accuracy of any #CFC player who completed the match, Luiz won only 20% of duels. Top players were awful.
Dan Levene @danlevene
Chelsea have been absolutely woeful today. Made Palace look almost average. Which is saying something.
Conte has been vocal in pointing out Batshuayi should not be made a scapegoat for the team’s failure. According to Kinsella, he said:
“Why do you have to speak about Batshuayi and for example not another player? I think that the performance of the whole team was bad. Not only one player or two players but all of the players.
“Today, our performance was bad. I trust in every one of my players. I try to give everyone the opportunity to take their chances but also because we have only [two strikers] Morata and then Batshuayi.”
The 24-year-old is yet to set Stamford Bridge alight since arriving last year for £33 million, but he has nevertheless boasted an impressive goal record for the little time he has spent on the pitch.
Last season he bagged nine goals and three assists in 702 minutes, including the strike that won the Blues the title, while this year he has netted five times in 418 minutes including a dramatic late winner at Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
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Batshuayi has perhaps been unfortunate this season that his only two Premier League starts have coincided with the Blues’ worst performances—the other being the 3-2 defeat to Burnley on the opening day—but he’s not the reason his team-mates struggled in those games even if he did not play well himself.
Chelsea do need more reinforcements if they’re to handle both domestic and European responsibilities, but offloading Batshuayi will not only ensure they continue to have a limited number of options up front, it will also likely signal the end of his Blues career when he perhaps deserves a more significant chance to prove himself.