As the hours, minutes and seconds tick towards the closing of the transfer window; Chelsea fans are feeling slightly uneasy. Only two new signings (one outfield player) have been given to new manager Maurizio Sarri to help him create his attacking brand of football at Stamford Bridge. Add this to the fact that a promising pre-season is being soured by a lack of competence from Chelsea’s main striking option in Alvaro Morata, there isn’t much for the Blues to get excited about.
During Sarri’s time at Napoli, he could initially count on the goals of the aforementioned Higuaín. But after his departure to Juventus, Sarri had to find a solution. Sarri inventively created an internal solution to make up for that loss by converting the playmaking talents of Dries Mertens and turning the Belgian into a deadly finisher. With Morata not firing on all cylinders, you would think there is a Napoli blueprint there for Sarri to convert Hazard into one of the best strikers in the world. However, there is another Belgian in the Chelsea squad who would suit the ‘Mertens role’ even better.
24-year-old Michy Batshuayi hasn’t had the best of times at Chelsea but there are a multitude of reasons for that; coming into an Antonio Conte team that required a big muscular striker who could hold up the ball didn’t fit Batshuayi’s specifications at all and so he was often a square peg in a round hole regardless of the fact his goalscoring record is still respectable. Sarri’s arrival could be the turning point in Michy’s career.
Last season, Napoli finished with more points than they have ever accumulated in a Serie A season and Dries Mertens was a huge reason for that. If we compare statistics, Michy Batshuayi is more like Dries Mertens than you would think.
It would be wrong to compare Mertens with the current iteration of Batshuayi as he hasn’t been playing regularly. Instead, I will use Squawka to compare Mertens stats of last season to Batshuayi’s stats when he last played a full season of regular football in Ligue 1 with Marseille.
Batshuayi in 2015/16 and Mertens last season both played well over 2000 minutes of football and both reached heady heights with their respective clubs. In fact, Michy’s attack score is higher than Mertens. Both players scored 17 league goals, while Michy also has the edge on Mertens in terms of total shots and also in shooting accuracy at 56% compared to 51%.
Sarri expects his forward players to also contribute by creating chances and perhaps surprisingly, Batshuayi made 9 assists for his teammates at Marseille while Mertens only provided 6 assists last year. Their pass completion cannot be separated with both of them completing 75% of their passes.
These stats should make positive reading for Chelsea fans; instead of waiting for the club to bring in a new striker, they actually have a striker already at the club who will suit Sarri’s system perfectly. The role played by Batshuayi in his final season at Marseille was of a well rounded forward who had an amazing eye for goal, there is a job vacancy at Stamford Bridge with exactly that job description; Batshuayi should get the job.