Antonio Conte described Michy Batshuayi is a “young player with great potential” after the striker scored twice during Chelsea’s FA Cup win over Newcastle.

The Belgium striker has had limited first-team opportunities under Conte, who has said Batshuayi could leave on loan this month.

Marcos Alonso added a second-half free-kick to Batshuayi’s first-half double as Chelsea eased into the fifth round.

“We are talking about a powerful player because he is strong physically, and for sure he has a lot of space for improvement,” said Chelsea boss Conte.

“I don’t know if it was his best game, but it was very important for the team and for him. For the striker to score is very important for confidence.”

Batshuayi rounded off a superb move to open the scoring for the 2017 finalists after the home side had made a slow start before putting the finishing touch to another Chelsea break just before half-time.

Alonso’s free-kick, which took the defender to a career-best seven goals in a season, sealed the win for the home side with Newcastle unable to build on an encouraging opening 30 minutes.

“It was a good performance. It wasn’t easy because Newcastle prepared a very defensive game. When the draw faces you with another Premier League team it’s never easy,” added Conte.

With Chelsea seemingly desperate to land a striker before next week’s deadline, Batshuayi certainly gave Conte something to think about.

Conte has previously said that if the club signs another striker this month the Belgium international will be allowed to leave on loan.

Batshuayi also scored in the FA Cup third-round replay against Norwich, although you need to go back to October for his last league goals, a double in the win over Watford, having been largely restricted to substitute appearances this season.

Edin Dzeko, Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch have all been linked with January moves to Chelsea.

But Batshuayi has done all he can to press his claims after joining Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata as the only Chelsea players to reach double figures this season, his brace on Sunday taking his personal tally to 10.

“I don’t know if we will be able to get another player, but if we do, it doesn’t mean Michy has to go on loan. We have a lot of competition,” said Conte.

“If the club decides to add another player, I don’t know if Michy wants to stay or wants to go on loan. In this case it will be the player’s decision, not my decision.”

Conte feels he needs at least three strikers in his squad to compete on all fronts, and Morata and Batshuayi are Chelsea’s only recognised forwards with Hazard considered a third option in attack if needed.




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