Possessing such a young raw talent that Michy Batshuayi is, French club Marseille were always going to have a battle on their hands to keep hold of him. Some of Europe's top clubs have been keeping tabs on him all summer, and after the Belgian scored with his first touch just two minutes into his Euro 2016 debut, the rest of the footballing world sat up and noticed.
It was no surprise then, that yesterday morning, Marseille's £31 million (€38 million) asking price was met. What was surprising, though, was who met it. It wasn't Juventus, Tottenham or Chelsea, who had all been tracking the player. Instead, it was Crystal Palace who triggered the players release.
West Ham had made their intentions clear earlier this month, and according to the Mirror, indicated to the French side that they were willing to match their full asking price. But it was Palace who made the first move. Going straight to Marseille's president, Vincent Labrune, the club made their bid, which was accepted Tuesday morning.
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The Eagles looked almost certain to sign Batshuayi, now needing only to agree personal terms with the 22-year-old. And the clubs that had him on their shortlist all summer: Juventus, Tottenham, West Ham and Chelsea, all looked to have missed out.
But less than 24 hours later, it appears Batshuayi is heading to Stamford Bridge instead of Selhurst Park. News broke early Wednesday morning that Marseille had accepted another bid for their star player, this one of £33 million (€40 million), from Chelsea.
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In the space of just a few hours, the Blues have effectively stolen Batshuayi from right under the nose of their London rival.
Chelsea acted with ruthless aggression to ensure the Belgian prodigy will be signing on the dotted line at Stamford Bridge. And the timeline of how the events unfolded shows how efficient Chelsea have been.
French-based football journalist Matt Spiro has explained how it happened in a series of tweets.
Batshuayi decided to turn down the offer from Crystal Palace after hearing that Chelsea had made contact with Marseille early yesterday afternoon. He had always had reservations about joining Palace, and although the Blues can't offer European football next season, the bid caught his attention.
With Batshuayi, Marseille and Chelsea all happy, Spiro suggests that Blues boss Antonio Conte was informed later in the afternoon, and the Italian gave his validation for the transfer. A final fee was eventually agreed at 8 pm Tuesday evening.
Even though Batshuayi is currently on duty with Belgium at Euro 2016, it is understood he has now been given special permission to undergo a medical in Bordeaux later today. If he completes it successfully, a deal should be wrapped up by Wednesday evening.
The ruthless way Chelsea went about their business, by dragging Batshuayi away from Crystal Palace as late as they did, shows that the club still has tremendous power in the transfer market.
Despite having a poor campaign last year, and failing to qualify for either of Europe's elite competitions, Batshuayi still chose the Blues over any of their London rivals. And this will give them the confidence to land the rest of their summer transfer targets before the season begins in August.
Is Batshuayi a better option than Romelu Lukaku? Leave a comment below!
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