Borussia Dortmund’s signing of Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi on January transfer deadline day was one-third of the transfer merry-go-round which saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang make the move to Arsenal, while Olivier Giroud swapped North London for West London by moving from the Gunners to Chelsea. And although Batshuayi has the lowest profile amongst this trio, his contribution to Dortmund has been fantastic, scoring five goals in his opening four games in all competitions for die Schwarzgelben.
The move has reinvigorated Batshuayi who has endured a stop-start career at Chelsea since joining the Blues from Olympique Marseille in the summer of 2016. He has never really been a first-choice striker at Stamford Bridge, despite a good goalscoring record. By his own admission, he has been a frustrated figure.
“I did not have a good time at Chelsea, but I’m doing well here and I’ve been well received by my colleagues and supporters,” Batshuayi explained to Sporza following his brace in the 3-2 Europa League win over Atalanta. “Sitting on the bench, scoring a goal and then being back on the bench is quite difficult to deal with for an attacker. As a young player, you need a lot of playing time to evolve. It’s perfect here and I’m trusted by everyone.”
Dortmund have recruited a player who is hungry for game time and with a point to prove. It has often been levelled at Batshuayi that he has lapses in concentration, which frustrates the demanding Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
However, he is a hard-working player who has consistently demonstrated that he links play extremely well with his teammates and has the priceless ability to put the ball in the net. The goals that Batshuayi has scored already, together with his performances have immediately endeared himself to the fans, his coach and teammates. This has not gone unnoticed by Julian Weigl who told Bundesliga.com: “He does a lot of work for us. When we’re struggling to find a way through the opposition, he’s a player who holds it up well. That’s proving really, really good at the moment.”
Head coach Peter Stöger is also understandably delighted with Batshuayi’s impact so far. Speaking to German television after Thursday’s Europa League win over Atalanta, the manager said that: “Michy is a real goalscorer; it was a good move go bring him here. The question was: How well does he fit into the team, will he feel at home here? Things are looking good. He is well-liked, fully integrated and our goals as well as his personal goals align. Scoring goals is one thing, but working for the team and winning balls like he did for the opener makes him a great striker.”
While Batshuayi’s arrival has been overwhelmingly positive, there is a downside that cannot be overlooked. This is the fact that there is no agreement for a permanent deal with Chelsea at the end of the Belgian’s loan spell at the end of the season. If reports are to be believed, Conte would have been happy to see Batshuayi move to Germany on a permanent basis – however, the board refused to sanction this. If Batshuayi continues to excel in North-Rhine Westphalia, the demand for his services will only intensify and put him firmly in the minds of other possible suitors who may have deeper pockets than Borussia Dortmund.
With Batshuayi under contract until 2021, Chelsea have an asset on their books and should they decide to sell him will understandably look to receive the highest price. There have also been murmurings in the British press that Chelsea may use Batshuayi as a makeweight in their pursuit of Christian Pulisic. Whatever happens in the future, Batshuayi has built up a large amount of admirers in such a short space of time. For now at least he is in a happy place after his frustrations at Chelsea while Dortmund fans will be hoping he can continue his goalscoring run for as long as possible.
By Jonathan Shelley.