Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has appeared to suggest that Michy Batshuayi will not be signed from Chelsea permanently in the summer.
The Belgian loanee has been dropped for Palace’s Premier League clash against Manchester City at Selhurst Park, with Christian Benteke given a rare starting berth.
Batshuayi at Selhurst Park: Five key things to know…
- Batshuayi was on-loan with Valencia at the start of the season, but saw his temporary stint cut short to join Palace in January.
- Since relocating to south London, the 25-year-old has netted two goals in nine league matches.
- Following the Chelsea forward’s arrival, Benteke was pushed down the pecking order.
- Chelsea may be keen to retain Batshuayi’s services this summer with a potential two-window transfer ban looming over the club.
- Hodgson has now all-but confirmed Batshuayi’s future while explaining his decision to drop the striker for the match against City.
Palace are hoping to achieve a monumental double over Pep Guardiola’s side, with the Eagles playing host to the reigning Premier League champions this afternoon.
Hodgson deployed Wilfried Zaha through the middle for the 3-2 win at the Etihad in December but has opted for a more traditional centre-forward this time around.
Many would have been expecting Batshuayi to start up top, but the veteran tactician has reintroduced Benteke – who has failed to score since April last year – to his starting XI, and prior to the match he explained his thinking.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Hodgson said: “Christian is contracted to us, Michy is a loan player and we are not sure how long we are going to be able to keep him, that’s part of the reason, but Christian has also been doing well and we think he deserves to start the game.
“He has four or five games where he has come in for 15-20 minutes and done well and we thought it’s time he deserved a start and hopefully his physical presence will help us keep the ball in their half of the field than one could normally do.”
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How fans reacted…
With news of Benteke’s inclusion against one of the best teams in Europe, Palace fans were naturally mixed with their views of Hodgson’s latest team selection, though many were happy to see the former Liverpool man given a chance.
— Aman 🦅 (@amancpfc) April 14, 2019
Because he can hold the ball up which will be needed today more than any
— James Macey (@JMac00027) April 14, 2019
I’m ready… pic.twitter.com/xTXoQ42kXy
— Niraj G (@Niraj_G10) April 14, 2019
Relying on this legend today pic.twitter.com/J59YtA2bAM
— Caleb Gardner (@JackSauce99) April 14, 2019
Yes Benteke that's more like it
— Justin Hill (@woody_hill) April 14, 2019
It may not have worked out at Liverpool, but Benteke can redeem himself in every conceivable way if he scores today. pic.twitter.com/e9Q751HAdA
— Laurie (@LFCLaurie) April 14, 2019
Do it for us christian
— Owen (@Mikiel29) April 14, 2019