Things have yet to truly start clicking for summer signing Tiemoué Bakayoko at Chelsea, who arrived at Stamford Bridge for a cool £40 million and a mission to fill the midfield void left by the departure of Nemanja Matic to Manchester United — though Conte, ideally, would’ve wanted the younger man to apprentice under Matic for a season, but the veteran midfielder wasn’t too keen on that.
Having been thrust into a bigger role than initially expected, Bakayoko’s performances have been erratic to say the least. He’s not been helped by a lingering knee injury either, which has meant that the former Monaco standout has yet to actually play for Chelsea while completely injury- or pain-free. As ever, there’s been a strong rush to early judgement for the 23-year-old, even while lamenting the fact that the Chelsea had given up on other highly regarded young players a bit too early in the past.
For one of the best midfielders in the world, N’Golo Kante, Bakayoko’s performances are just part of a bit of growing pains in England. The Premier League’s reigning player of the year believes that his club and international teammate will come good with a bit of support, a bit of development, and, of course, lots of hard work.
"He is training hard and giving his best. We have to make him play in the best way."
"Is there more of a team responsibility to get the best out of him? Yes. But not just Tiemoué, for everyone. We have to work together for the good of the team, for trying to win games. That is what we train to do."
"Tiemoué played a good game [at West Ham], but at half-time the manager decided to change the tactics to put Pedro in because he is more offensive. That's why he was substituted but he was doing well."
"I think he is having a good time now at Chelsea. He is a professional. If he needs advice, I can give it to him. But it is the same at every club - try to work in training, to understand what the coach wants and give your best in the game. It is the same everywhere."
-N'Golo Kanté; source: Evening Standard
If Bakayoko’s looking for an example to follow both on and off the pitch, he has to look no further than Kante.