After scoring the goal that secured the Premier League for Chelsea under Antonio Conte he had a successful season with Borussia Dortmund. The most recent loan spell at Valencia, after finishing third in the 2018 World Cup with Belgium, did not provide Batshuayi with the platform to replicate some of his best form but, nonetheless, the talent remains.
It is why Tottenham were considering making him their first and only signing of the season, and it is why there was so much shock when it emerged that Palace had agreed personal terms with the 25-year-old to join on loan 90 minutes before the January transfer window closed.
Chelsea knew there was money to be made in a deal to send the unwanted forward on loan and were demanding an absurd fee from Tottenham for his services until the end of the season. Everton were interested in a permanent move and West Ham were also put off by the loan fee.
All of which adds to the surprise that Palace, a team that had precious little money to spend in the transfer window, were able to bring him to Selhurst Park, where he had a hand in their 2-0 win against Fulham 24 hours after meeting Roy Hodgson for the first time.
Reports say that Tottenham were offered him for £8m, West Ham £4m, but Palace managed to get him for much closer to £1m.
The reason, according to Hodgson, is the positive relationship between the two clubs that was created as a result of Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s loan spell at Selhurst Park last season.
“I can’t say I’m surprised about it, I’m very pleased about it,” said Hodgson of the transfer, which he only found out about the next morning having gone to bed early on deadline day.
“A lot of it has to do with the relationship with Chelsea and Crystal Palace, Chelsea people and our chairman, Steve Parish.
“I thought we did a very good job last year with for Chelsea with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he did a great job for us, we didn’t exactly send him back as a worse player or a player with less value, I think that stands in our favour.
“He came to us as a player from the Chelsea reserves who very rarely got a game outside of the League Cup, he went back an England international whose value will have probably tripled or quadrupled, so I think you could also say Crystal Palace put a lot of money into Chelsea’s pocket.
“I think maybe the way the team plays and the people that watch us are thinking about joining a team will think ‘they’re not a bad football team’ and of course the fact that people like Ray Lewington and myself have very good experience that can also play a part in it.”
Hodgson met Batshuayi for the first time on Friday afternoon at the training ground and immediately told him he will be starting on the bench in the crucial match against Fulham.
“It was a real pleasure to get Michy, he’s a real bubbly character, we saw that when he came on and I’m sure he’ll enjoy his time with us, and I’m just hoping we enjoy him as well, because if we do enjoy him it means we’re winning matches and he’s scoring goals.”
While he did not score on his debut, Batshuayi made an impact in the 10 minutes he played, claiming an assist for Jeffry Schlupp’s goal after Sergio Rico could only parry his powerful effort following some good footwork to create space and shoot inside the penalty area.
“I’m going to bring as much as I can to help the team win and get some game time to be at my best,” Batshuayi told the club’s website.
Schlupp’s goal added to Luka Milivojevic’s first half penalty and sealed a vital win that hauled Palace away from the reach of the teams in the relegation zone.
“(The win over Fulham was) very important,” added Batshuayi. “It’s good for the team and for me. I feel good but I need to train with the team so to have the whole team together will be something that’s good.
“I spent one day (with them) before training and with the coach.”
Just where Batshuayi can propel Palace with more than one training session with Hodgson and his teammates is exciting for the south London club; it’s also worth noting that his appearance from the bench was his first match in almost a month.
A sharp Batshuayi lining up with Benteke being supplied by Wilfried Zaha, whose absence through suspension on Saturday was barely noticed, and Andros Townsend means that it might be time for the club to increase their ambition from just staying up to something higher. All because of that prosperous relationship with Chelsea.
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