21 Olympique De Marseille Striker Belgium
2014 has been…
Not too bad. Batshuayi had already found the back of the net fourteen times for Standard Liege when we announced the 100 for 2014 this time last year. He’d made it clear that goalscoring responsibility was something he could be trusted with during 2012/13, but last time out was a real breakthrough. Forming a formidable strike partnership with fellow 100 alumni Imoh Ezekiel, the young pair bagged and impressive 38 goals across the season. A season which very nearly delivered an eleventh league title for Les Rouches.
Acting as the focal point for attacks, Batshuayi demonstrated acute sharpness and offered significant focal presence. With wingers Paul-José Mpoku and Geoffrey Mujangi Bia providing notable support and service, Liege were the outstanding team in Belgium for pretty much the whole season, losing only three times in the league prior to the playoffs.
Understandably there would be periods when the young striker, who had a played an awful lot of football over the two corresponding years, would be slightly off the pace, but such was the attacking threat offered by his colleagues there was no discernible difference should our man suffer an off day. The Brussels born spearhead rarely went too long without a goal.
Ultimately, Liege’s season would end without reward as Anderlecht made a late and fruitful grab for the title, taking the crown by a small margin. As with any team that does particularly well in Belgium or The Netherlands, the inevitable breakup of the Liege squad occurred in the summer. Ezekiel made for Qatar (?), William Vainqueur was snapped up by Dynamo Moscow while Batshuayi, with no shortage of welcoming parties (both Dortmund and Arsenal were reported to be interested) declined an offer from Swansea City and made for the latest Marcelo Bielsa project at Marseille.
And that’s where we are now. The South of France is a good, nay, perfect place to kick on from here. Batshuayi has a full range of skills to suggest that he can become a successful striker at the highest level, but he is at something of a correction period right now, a pause in the learning curve perhaps.
At Marseille, Bielsa has opted to revert to type and stick with a single striker and Andre Pierre Gignac has been particularly effective in this role thus far, with additional support offered from the creative talents of Florian Thauvin, Andre Ayew and Dmitri Payet. Batshuayi is certainly not a like for like replacement for the savvy Gignac, but since Mathieu Valbuena’s departure, he is Marseille’s first choice back up and offers a new set of options up front when compared with the former Toulouse man.
At this stage of his career Batshuayi is well placed to develop further. He has an intelligent and well-travelled coach to guide him, experienced colleagues to offer support and a host of clever players more than adept at laying on chances for any willing striker. Indeed the prospect of Thauvin, Ayew, Payet and Batshuayi in full flow really is quite tantalising. Ligue 1 is the perfect forum and while chances to impress have been minimal so far, injuries and loss of form will occur to others that will allow Batshuayi to demonstrate his own ability.
For Marseille the tricky task will be keeping PSG at arm’s length, something that, following a shaky start, they’re managing to do, but only just. The problem with having such a potent force just behind you is the tendency to worry about what is over your shoulder and there will be times this season when the psychological pressure of trying to win a title will play on players’ minds. As a young striker and someone that will be required to deliver when asked, Batshuayi will need to make sure focus is maintained and that any opportunities are nailed to ensure further progress.
All in all a decent year and a really nice position to be in, even if matches are currently at a premium. From a national team perspective Batshuayi has seen fellow youngsters Romelu Lukaku and Divock Origi play at a World Cup and he will have been disappointed not to join them in the international fold this summer. Brasil 2014 arrived a little too prematurely in Michy Batshuayi’s journey but a repeat of the form and ability he showed at Liege should mean that international call ups will beckon sooner rather than later. Robust and possessing that critical knack of being in the right place at the right time, goals will invariably flow, he just needs an opportunity.
"Not part of Bielsa's starting XI. Struggled to make an impact, hasn't played more than 45 minutes. 21 goals for Standard seems a long time ago." - Andrew Gibney
"Michy Batshuayi scored 21 times in the Jupiler Pro League in 2013/14, averaging a goal every 145 minutes." - OptaJoe
C In a good place, take your chances.
All the latest Nike Football Boots are available at JD