Antonio Conte has piled more pressure on the Chelsea board by insisting he needs three strikers to stand any chance of winning something this season.
And Conte, at odds with the Chelsea hierarchy over signings all season, for the first time held out the chance that Michy Batshuayi may have a future at Stamford Bridge after his two goals condemned Newcastle to FA Cup fourth-round defeat.
Chelsea are still in talks with Roma over a £30million deal for striker Edin Dzeko, which they hope to conclude before the transfer deadline on Wednesday night.
Previously Conte had hinted that if the Bosnian arrives Batshuayi, who wants a move, would leave on loan, with Sevilla interested.
But Batshuayi made it an astonishing 19 goals in 18 starts in his Chelsea career with his double strike, and after Marcos Alonso added a third, he said: “When I have a chance I take the chance. I work hard every day. What happens is not up to me – it is better you ask the manager.”
Conte would not answer directly, but said: “When you play Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, three strikers is the minimum. If we are able to take another player, it doesn’t mean Michy has to go on loan.
“We only have two strikers, Alvaro Morata and Batshuayi, and Morata is out injured.”
Batshuayi has been told by Belgium coach Roberto Martinez that he needs to be playing if he is to be in contention for the World Cup finals, but Conte said: “Every player wants to play to push the coach of their national team.
“If the club decides to add another player, I don’t know if Michy wants to stay or go on loan.
“It will be the player’s decision, not my decision. I’m ready to continue to work with these players.
“I’m happy for Michy. This performance was very important for him and the team. We are talking about a young player with great potential.
“For me the most important thing is the present, not the future. Otherwise I would have taken other choices. Michy has improved in many ways.”
Batshuayi is likely to play again in Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Bournemouth – unless he is on the move – with Morata still recovering from a back problem.
Disappointed Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez said: “We started well, but after we went two goals down we were more open.
“We have time to bring in new players. Time to do some business before the 31st”.
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