Conte: Batshuayi won't start vs. Arsenal, could leave Chelsea on loan
LONDON -- Antonio Conte has indicated that Michy Batshuayi will not start for Chelsea against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semifinal second leg on Wednesday, despite Alvaro Morata missing out due to a back injury that has left him unable to train without pain.
Batshuayi performed well without scoring in Morata's absence as Chelsea beat Brighton 4-0 on Saturday, but Conte suggested that a different attacking set-up may be required at the Emirates Stadium. Chelsea's head coach also confirmed that Batshuayi will leave Stamford Bridge on loan this month if another striker -- understood to be Roma frontman Edin Dzeko -- is acquired.
"I don't know if this is the right time," Conte said when asked if Batshuayi would play vs. Arsenal. "I think that every player had their chance to play and to show me their value. Now I think I have to make the best decision for the team.
"Every game is different. The quality of your opponent is different. I have to make the best decision to try and exploit my players in the best way. Our job is not simple, not easy. We have to try to make the best decision every time for the team. And to try to improve our players. Sometimes we are able, sometimes we are not able. But you have to do your best to reach your target."
Conte compared Batshuayi's situation at Stamford Bridge to that of Kenedy, who has joined Newcastle on loan for the rest of the season with Chelsea set to complete the signing of left-back Emerson Palmieri from Roma.
"If another striker arrives, then Batshuayi will go on loan," Conte said. "I think he wants to have the opportunity to play with regularity. I think this is right. If we stay with the same players from the start [of the season], it doesn't change. One player goes out, one player comes in. One player comes in, one player goes out."
Chelsea's need to find another striker that Conte can trust has intensified with the form and fitness of Morata, who is now suffering physically as well as having his confidence tested by a run of just five goals in his last 23 games, dating back to September.
"If you remember, in the past, he stopped himself for a problem in his back," Conte said of the Spanish international. "Now this pain has come back. I hope it's nothing serious, but this is the second game that he stopped. He wasn't available against Brighton because this problem was there the day before as well [regardless of his suspension].
"Now it's with the medical department to try and solve this problem and give him the opportunity to have a training session without pain. This is the real problem now, not that he's not scoring or that his confidence is down. For every striker, you can pass this type of moment. The real problem now is he has to overcome this problem in his back. I hope to solve this problem very quickly because we need Alvaro. We need Alvaro's commitment."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.