It’s probably fair to say that Tiémoué Bakayoko has had a rough time since leaving Monaco a little less than a year and a half ago. After winning Ligue 1 and reaching the Champions League semifinals, Bakayoko signed for Chelsea for £40m and had a very promising debut against Spurs. The future was looking bright. However, much like Chelsea themselves, Bakayoko became worse as the season wore on. (Much like Chelsea, Bakayoko also showed glimpses of promise towards the end, but it was too little too late to undo the damaging narrative of the season as a whole.)
Conte’s sacking only made matters worse for the then 23-year-old. Out went the pragmatic, robust football that was supposed to suit Bakayoko, and in came a more technical, meticulous approach. The new coach unsurprisingly favored the likes of Barkley and Fabregas and even Loftus-Cheek over the man who’s first touch deserted him more often than a sense of patience deserts modern football in general.
Bakayoko was thus sent on loan to AC Milan, but unfortunately for him, his bad form not only continued but possibly got even worse in the new surroundings. They were so dire in fact that Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso went on to say that Bakayoko has defects that will take longer than a week to iron out and he would have preferred to manage other, older, more experienced players.
That’s certainly a lot to take at such a young age, but Bakayoko is proving to be made of more defiant stuff.
“I’ve been very well received. It’s a good group and my integration has gone very well, I’m trying to adapt the way I play. The best of me has yet to come and it’d be better to play a bit more, but I’m already seeing improvements.
“A lot of things have changed, it’s a new league and a new style of football but I’m trying to give my best. With time you’ll see the Bakayoko you talk about.”
-Tiemoue Bakayoko; source: Evening Standard
It’s certainly good to see that Bakayoko is still confident and giving his best rather than giving up and sulking. Then again, the only way is up from play described as “confused and messy” and “slow and imprecise” by Italian media like Tuttosport and Gazzetta dello Sport. Still, it takes a lot of mental conviction to keep going in times like these.
Here’s hoping that Bakayoko’s mental fortitude translates into good performances on the pitch once again. After all, what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.