Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi could find himself charged with the task of ending England’s perfect start at the World Cup as they go head-to-head for top spot in Group G.
The ankle injury Romelu Lukaku picked up as he scored twice in his side’s 5-2 demolition of Tunisia on Saturday could see him miss the showdown with Gareth Southgate’s men, handing Chelsea’s Batshuayi a chance to impress.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the threat he could pose to England.
Career to date
Batshuayi launched his professional career in Belgium with Standard Liege, scoring 41 goals in 107 appearances to win a move to Marseille in August 2014. His exploits in France, where he found the back of the net on 33 occasions in 72 outings, won him a £33million switch to Chelsea in July 2016. Batshuayi played a significant role in the club’s Premier League success in his first season, scoring the goal which clinched the title with a 1-0 win at West Brom. However, he spent the second half of the last campaign on loan at German club Borussia Dortmund and his future at Stamford Bridge is uncertain amid speculation over manager Antonio Conte’s position.
The 24-year-old, along with new arrival Alvaro Morata, found it difficult to plug the gap left at Chelsea by Diego Costa during the first half of last season, but still managed 10 goals, and added nine in 14 appearances for Dortmund, including five in his first three. He scored as a substitute in Belgium’s 4-1 friendly victory over Costa Rica on the eve of the World Cup and helped himself to his side’s fifth in the win against Tunisia, but did so having already passed up three gilt-edged chances.
Having won his first senior cap – and scored – as a substitute against Cyprus in March 2015, he has made a further 16 appearances and taken his goal tally to eight since, although he has had to remain patient with 13 of his caps coming from the bench. That said, three of his four starts and five of his goals have come in his last eight appearances.
The challenge of replacing Lukaku is a big one. Despite his 6’1″ frame, Batshuayi is not a traditional back-to-goal centre-forward whose power is the major concern for defenders, but rather a striker who likes to play on the last shoulder. He has a knack of finding space inside the penalty area to round off moves rather than creating chances himself, and while his goals tally is creditable, he can be hit and miss at times.