Chelsea manager Antonio Conte would have no qualms about playing Michy Batshuayi from the start against Burnley, but insists the striker still has plenty of improvements to make following his successful introduction to the Premier League.
Belgium striker Batshuayi moved to Stamford Bridge from Marseille in the close-season and has already made two telling contributions with an assist in the opening victory against West Ham and scoring in last weekend’s come-from-behind win over Watford.
He then staked another claim with a brace in the midweek EFL Cup success over Bristol Rovers, leaving Diego Costa’s position as Chelsea’s lead striker under threat.
Conte praised Batshuayi’s contribution to the cause thus far, yet issued a word of warning on his development.
“It’s not difficult because Batshuayi is a player of Chelsea and I can decide to put him in [against Burnley] no problem,” he said at a pre-match news conference.
“He is a young player, improving a lot and with the work we do he can improve in the future. But he is important also in the present, I can decide to play him at the beginning of the match.
“I’m impressed with his attitude and will to improve, but I am sure he can improve a lot in many aspects, tactical, technical, physical. He is an important young player with great improvements that he can make in the future.”
Chelsea have started life well under Conte after a disappointing 10th-placed finish last term, which means they were absent from Thursday’s Champions League draw.
And Conte insists any advantage they may hold in the league is not worth having if it means missing out on Europe’s premier club competition.
“The press always asked me this question during my first year at Juventus,” he added. “We were out of the Champions League and the Europa League.
“If we had some advantage [I am not sure], but I can say that it’s always important, always a pleasure to play in the Champions League.
“It’s a competition that is most important. Chelsea is a great team and must play in this competition.”