From the midfield general of a Ligue 1 winning side to a laughing stock in London, Tiémoué Bakayoko really has had a year to forget…
The former Monaco midfielder had a torrid debut season for Chelsea in 2017/18 where he struggled to adapt to the league and ended up causing more harm than good. Just one season after he was tipped to be The Blues’ upgrade on an ageing Nemanja Matic and the Frenchman finds himself in AC Milan colours.
The deal is an initial loan move with an option to make it permanent for £35 million which if made permanent would be a £5 million loss for the London club. At the San Siro now, Bakayoko has an opportunity to make amends for his mediocre year at Stamford Bridge.
In 2016/17, Bakayoko was formidable in front of Monaco’s defence. He averaged a very impressive 2.9 tackles per game and 2.8 interceptions per game in the Champions League that year, illustrating his ability to break up play as well as read the game intelligently against the hardest of opponents.
For the Blues, however, this output dropped to 2.2 tackles and alarmingly 1.4 interceptions per game in the league. Poor positioning and lack of awareness left the Chelsea defence exposed time after time and led to Bakayoko receiving widespread criticism from pundits and fans. The transition for the Frenchman into Conte’s system was hard and this fall in output proved it.
But not only was Bakayoko a rock in front of his central defenders, he was effective going forward. For Monaco that season, he averaged 1.8 dribbles per game allowing him to drive forward with the ball.
This dropped to 1.2 dribbles per game for Chelsea. His poor ball control though was much more of a problem, with the midfielder averaging 1.4 bad controls per game at the Bridge, far worse than in France. Clumsiness and poor judgement were not doing Bakayoko any favours, a complete shadow of his former Monaco self.
A Poor Start
To rub salt further into the wounds, Bakayoko couldn’t have had a worse start for the Rossoneri. He was subbed on after halftime with the side being 2-0 up against Napoli and they ended up losing 3-2. Harsh words from the manager followed too, so not a good first impression!
‘He has to learn how to receive the ball and that means having the right positioning and posture.’ Gennaro Gattuso on Bakayoko
It’s not all doom and gloom for the French midfielder though. At 24 years of age, he still has time to regain the respect he earned from game-winning performances in 2016/17. An athletic talented box to box midfielder likened to Yaya Toure, Bakayoko has all the attributes to be successful. Both Chelsea and Milan fans will hope he can regain confidence and redeem himself under the stewardship of legendary defensive midfielder Gennaro Gattuso at the San Siro this season.