Antonio Conte is happy with Michy Batshuayi’s contribution after his improved display against Brighton & Hove Albion but says that the striker could be distracted by transfer speculation.
Batshuayi is attracting strong interest from Sevilla to come in on loan, while Borussia Dortmund and Roma are also thought to be monitoring the Belgium international.
Charly Musonda and Kenedy could follow him on loan in January to earn more game time, and Conte says he is happy with Batshuayi but thinks that the transfer market has the potential to distract his young stars.
“No.9’s an important player,” Conte said at the Amex Stadium in Brighton. “I want a player to be a point of reference for our team. Today I’m satisfied for the work, for Batshuayi’s job.
“For sure in this period it is not simple, it’s not easy for the players — especially for the players who want to go on loan. It’s not simple but at the same time in my head there is the idea to work with these players and to continue to work with all these players.
“As I said during the press conference, I’m very happy to work with this group of players because they show me in every moment a great commitment, they show me they want to do what they want in the game.
“Batshuayi is a Chelsea player and we are working with him very hard in the same way that we are working with [Alvaro] Morata, we are working with [Eden] Hazard, Willian and Pedro and now with [Ross] Barkley.
“For me, Michy is a Chelsea player and in my mind there is the will to continue to work with him and to try to improve. Then I don’t know if the player decides to take other solution or if he wants to play with regularity.
“You don’t know, it can happen. But at the same time in my mind there is tomorrow to continue to work with all my players and try to improve everyone. I think if you are in a team like Chelsea, before you arrive in this type of team you know you have to challenge and this is a big challenge.
“You find a lot of good players. Otherwise you decide to stay in a medium team or low team and probably you can play every game. But I think that every single player that decides to come to Chelsea, they must be prepared to have this type of challenge.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea have a young player who is breaking the mould and earning game time in Andreas Christensen.
The 21-year-old suffered a collision of heads with Brighton defender Shane Duffy on Saturday. He was substituted off in the middle of the second half after initially coming back on, but it is understood to be just bruising and not a concussion.
Conte confirmed that Christensen would return to training as normal on Sunday as Chelsea prepare to face Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Arsenal on Wednesday.
He also thinks Christensen could look to the man who replaced him, David Luiz, to improve his passing range.
“I think from the start that Christensen has improved in a fantastic way,” Conte said. “I think there is only one word, this is improvement. Work, work and work. This player — despite he is a young player, he’s only 21 years old — I think he could be come a really important defender, not just for Chelsea.
“The important thing is to continue to be humble, to continue with the will to improve, with the will to work, but I’m pleased with the improvement. I think he has to improve a lot with the ball.
“He has a lot of space for improvement, to have more personality like David Luiz. Luiz with the ball is important because he has great personality and in this way [Christensen] can improve a lot.
“He’s ready tomorrow for the training session. The referee saw the head against head, and then he saw the player touch his head, and for this reason he thought not to force but to suggest a substitution. The player didn’t agree, but I repeat when you have a player on the bench like David Luiz and you’re winning 2-0, I prefer to make the substitution.
“I was a simple contusion [bruise], and the player is OK. If we had to play another game now, he would be ready.”