Crystal Palace signs Michy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea for the second time
Why did he decide to join Palace?
A few weeks ago, the decision could have been taken as a surprise. Batshuayi’s contract had entered its final 12 months and, with Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud ahead of him in the pecking order, he was unlikely to appear at Chelsea.
He was reluctant to go out on loan and wanted a fresh start elsewhere, but no firm interest materialized.
When he was forced into quarantine and failed to qualify for the Belgian squad for the Nations League games against Denmark and Iceland, his position changed overnight ( he then returned to replace Yannick Carrasco and scored twice on Tuesday night). A loan suddenly seemed more attractive.
Where will it fit in Selhurst Park?
His assimilation into the team should be transparent. Batshuayi scored five Premier League goals in nine league starts for Palace in 2018-19, was popular in the locker room – notably with Wilfried Zaha – and a favorite of manager Roy Hodgson and the pecking order.
The Belgian is becoming a short-term solution – albeit at a premium given loan fees and salaries – to a long-standing problem. Palace scored 31 league goals last season, their lowest ever.
This does not solve the problem in the long run. Palace had aspired to secure either Ollie Watkins or Odsonne Edouard, although they ended up being excluded from the race for both. They retain an interest in Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster but could still pursue him in what’s left of the window.
Is this the end for him at Chelsea?
The writing was on the wall for Batshuayi some time ago. Chelsea have welcomed players like Werner and Havertz at great expense, so Batshuayi’s contract extension is purely to preserve some value.
Athleticism understands that he has no long-term future at Stamford Bridge.
What does this mean for the current Palace attackers?
This should really increase the competition. Jordan Ayew did well last season and will remain a key player, but Christian Benteke has suffered injuries and suspension, and Connor Wickham’s fitness struggles are well established.
If there is any interest in Benteke, who is earning a considerable salary and is in the last year of his contract, then it is conceivable that he will be allowed to leave that window. The same could be said for Wickham.
Who else will Palace move for?
There is still the possibility of re-entering the market, and new attacking recruits would be welcome.
There is keen interest in Said Benrahma in Brentford and Ismaila Sarr in Watford, as well as Brewster. But, while the recruiting department has worked hard to strengthen the first-team setup – with Nathan Ferguson and Eberechi Eze already secured – there is a parallel drive to recruit younger players for the future.
Ipswich Town midfielder Flynn Downes and German club Bochum center-half Armel Bella-Kotchap could still move to south London.
(Photo: Crystal Palace)