Sunday 20 August 2017

West Ham lead chase as Chelsea get ready to offload title hero Batshuayi

Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi. Photo: PA
Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi. Photo: PA

Matt Law

Michy Batshuayi is facing an uncertain future at Chelsea, despite scoring the goal that clinched the Premier League title.

Batshuayi was the unlikely hero as he scored the winning goal against West Bromwich Albion six minutes after stepping off the bench.

It was only Batshuayi's second Premier League goal since joining Chelsea for £33m from Marseille last summer, and the 23-year-old is yet to start a league game.

With the title secure, Batshuayi and captain John Terry, who is leaving at the end of the season, could be given a chance in one of the final two Premier League games of the season, against Watford tonight or Sunderland on Sunday.

West Ham, who wanted to sign Batshuayi 12 months ago, are still interested in the Belgian, along with his former club Marseille and Ligue 1 leaders Monaco.

Chelsea, however, have yet to make a firm decision on what they plan to do with Batshuayi at the end of the season, with the player facing the possibility of having to wait to see if head coach Antonio Conte lands his top targets.

Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez are both on Chelsea's wanted list, and signing one or both of those players would leave Batshuayi heading for the exit. In that scenario, Chelsea would listen to loan and permanent bids and would considers the wishes of Batshuayi.

But the Blues have not ruled out keeping Batshuayi and offering him greater chances with the increased number of games they will play next season, particularly if they fail to land either Lukaku or Sanchez.

Batshuayi is still highly rated at Chelsea, but there is an acknowledgement that he will need to play more, either at Stamford Bridge or elsewhere, next season.

There is also the possibility that Chelsea try to use Batshuayi as a bargaining chip in their bids for transfer targets.

Everton would need a replacement for Lukaku, while Conte's interest in Monaco duo Tiemoue Bakayoko and Thomas Lemar could set up a mutually beneficial deal.

Meanwhile, Cesc Fabregas revealed that Chelsea are already confident they can restore some pride for English clubs in next season's Champions League.

"We definitely feel we can do something in the Champions League. It will be a big target for us," said Fabregas.

Before focusing on next season and the prospect of having to cope with the added demands of the Champions League, Chelsea will bid to complete a League and FA Cup double by beating Arsenal at Wembley on May 27.

Fabregas played for eight years at Arsenal and started the 2005 final against Manchester United, which the Gunners won on penalties.

"It will be emotional," said Fabregas. "It's not as if I like to play against Arsenal because they are a club which is in my heart and they will always be. But this is football and this is what we have to do, it can happen and hopefully we can win the double.

"I have to put those feelings aside. You have to be professional. Of course it means a lot to me, it's not an ordinary game for me."

Asked what completing the double would mean, Fabregas replied: "It would be fantastic for the players. It would be fantastic for the manager. Especially to do it in the first season after the problems we faced."

Chelsea v Watford,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0

Telegraph.co.uk

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