Valencia defender Eliaquim Mangala has revealed he is looking forward to facing off against Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi when his side host Chelsea.
The Blues travel to Valencia on Wednesday evening in the Champions League, with both sides in a good position to qualify for the last-16. If either Valencia or Chelsea win, they will secure their spot in the knockout stages with one game to go.
Wednesday’s clash will also see Batshuayi return to Valencia, having spent the first half of last season on loan at the Mestalla.
How did Batshuayi fare at the Mestalla? Five things to know…
- Michy Batshuayi spent the first half of 2018/19 on loan at Valencia.
- He managed just three goals in 23 games across all competitions.
- The lack of success saw Batshuayi return to Chelsea before being loaned out to Crystal Palace.
- And Valencia defender Eliaquim Mangala is looking forward to facing off against Batshuayi.
- The pair were at Standard Liege during the same period, building a bond in the process.
However, it was a spell to forget for the Belgian as he struggled alongside his teammates, scoring one goal in 15 La Liga games and adding just two more in eight cup appearances.
He subsequently returned to Chelsea in January and then moved to Crystal Palace on another loan deal, enjoying more success, scoring six goals in 13 games across all competitions.
Batshuayi has remained with Chelsea this season but has had to make do with a fringe role, playing just 270 minutes across his 12 appearances. However, in that time he has already bettered his Valencia tally, scoring five goals including the winner against Ajax in the Champions League.
The Belgian may not be expected to start for Chelsea given Lampard’s faith in the on-form Tammy Abraham but Batshuayi has proven himself to be a suitable replacement from the bench, moving ahead of Olivier Giroud in that regard.
And Mangala, who is expected to start at centre-back in place of Ezequiel Garay, is looking forward to prospect of facing “little brother” Batshuayi.
“We went to school together,” he told Valencia’s official website of Batshuayi.
“He was in the Standard Liege academy and sometimes trained with us in the first team.
“I coincided with him in the summer in Miami and we trained together. He’s like my little brother.
“He’s a very good player, he has a lot of talent and I wish him the best.”
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
Mangala wary of Lampard’s Chelsea
Batshuayi is not the only former teammate Mangala will be reuniting with on Wednesday evening. The Frenchman also spent a season with Chelsea manager Frank Lampard at Manchester City in 2014/15.
And Mangala, who is unbeaten in three appearances against Chelsea, described the Blues as a great English side.
“My previous games against Chelsea have gone well, but statistics are about the past, and Wednesday’s game will be a new contest,” he added.
“I hope that it goes well. We’re up against a great English side in the Champions League.
“I follow the Premier League, and in Frank Lampard they have a great coach -with whom I played as a teammate at Manchester City.
“They are a young side with very good players and are growing; they are having a good season.”