Antonio Conte says Chelsea need Michy Batshuayi, even if the Blues sign another striker.
Batshuayi scored twice in Sunday’s 3-0 FA Cup fourth-round win over Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have been linked with Roma’s Edin Dzeko, while Batshuayi has been the subject of speculation of a loan move to Sevilla and elsewhere.
Conte said: “If you see our squad, we don’t have three, four, five strikers. We have two strikers: (Alvaro) Morata and Batshuayi.
“When you have to play league, Champions League, then FA Cup. If we have also three strikers I think that’s the minimum.
“It doesn’t mean if we take another player Michy has to go on loan, because we have a lot of competitions.”
Conte, though, suggested he would sanction a move for Batshuayi if he demanded one to boost his hopes of making Belgium’s World Cup squad.
The Blues boss added: “If the club decides to add another player, then, I don’t know if Michy wants to stay, or wants to go on loan.
“In this case it would be a player decision, not my decision.”
Batshuayi now has 10 goals this season. Not a bad record, particularly when you consider 14 of his 25 appearances have come off the substitutes’ bench, many in the dying embers of games.
The frustration with Batshuayi centres on his poor hold-up play. Too often he relinquishes possession when an outlet is needed and Eden Hazard has been preferred as a ‘false nine’ at times.
“He has a lot of space for improvement,” Conte added.