Chelsea should use reported interest in Lampard's backup option to land summer target - opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…

According to The Daily Mail, Crystal Palace want to take Michy Batshuayi to Selhurst Park in January.

What’s the story?

The Belgium international joined the Blues in 2016 for a fee of £33.2m. However, he has made just 59 appearances for the club across those three campaigns, even if he has managed to score on 22 occasions.

He has instead spent a large amount of time out on loan, including a spell at Crystal Palace. He did well for Roy Hodgson’s side, netting six strikes in 13 games. Now, it looks as though the former England manager and co would like to take him to the club on a permanent basis.

Bait for Zaha

The 26-year-old may have had a promising start to the campaign, bagging three times in six matches, but it is clear he is nowhere near to Tammy Abraham in the club’s pecking order. He has started just one fixture in all competitions whilst Chelsea’s number nine is the Premier League’s joint-top scorer.

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He has just 18 months left on his contract and it looks like he will never be first-choice at Stamford Bridge. However, he is better than a place on the bench, for sure, and therefore a move away would be best for him. Should Crystal Palace be his next destination, he can be used as bait in a move for Wilfried Zaha.

It seems the Ivory Coast international’s days with the Eagles are numbered. He handed in a transfer request towards the end of the summer window and is said to have separated from his agent as he was unable to secure a move for him.

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Such is his quality for Palace, it is perplexing as to why he is still at Selhurst Park. Across the last three campaigns, he has scored 26 goals and provided 26 assists in England’s top-tier. None of his teammates come close.

Chelsea were said to be interested in him earlier this year, but were unable to sign him due to their transfer ban. That could end as early as January, though, as the Blues have appealed the sanction.

With them in need of a long-term winger – Willian has less than a year left on his current deal whilst Christian Pulisic does not appear to be a huge part of Frank Lampard’s plans – Zaha would add the quality they need. By letting Batshuayi move to Palace, Chelsea could butter up the the winger’s employers, and could convince them into letting him at least to talk to them, especially considering he should soon be on the move anyway.

Part-exchange deals are rare in football nowadays, but not completely unheard of. Joao Cancelo, for example, departed Juventus to join Manchester City with Danilo going in the other direction just this summer.

The end of Zaha’s partnership with his agent is a strong indicator of his current mentality. It seems quite obvious that he does not see his future with his current club, and the longer he is prevented from leaving, the worse his mood is likely to get.

It is unlikely that Palace will want to keep such a potentially disruptive influence in the dressing room, and they should be thinking about cashing in whilst he is still in top form. A reliable striker would not go amiss at Selhurst Park, even if Jordan Ayew has three goals in his eight games this campaign. Batshuayi is a good option and is unlikely to cost a fortune.

Although that would mean losing their back-up striker, that is all he is to Lampard and co – an alternative.

Zaha could well become a star at the Bridge, and the Blues should keep this in mind when dealing with Batshuayi’s future.

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