It’s not getting any better for pool old Tiémoué Bakayoko.
After his strong start at Chelsea turned into a confidence-shattering failure last season, Maurizio Sarri saw a player who wasn’t a good fit for his plans.
Carrying a £36m transfer fee, Chelsea weren’t going to be able to sell him and make their money back. So they engineered a loan-and-buy deal with AC Milan that might, if it all works out, let them break even.
Only, it’s not all working out. Not even close.
The midfielder's struggles have continued abroadhttps://t.co/TkpkBXyXtc— football.london (@Football_LDN) October 5, 2018
Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso threw Baka in at the deep end to start the new season. Leading Napoli 2-1 in their season-opener, he brought him on in the 58th minute to protect the lead.
Since then Baka has played a mere 50 minutes in five Serie A matches (not even on the bench for two of them) which is a paltry average of ten minutes per fixture.
But he has started two Europa League matches. The first, a 1-0 win against Luxembourg side F91 Dudelange, passed without incident.
Not so on Thursday. Even though Milan sailed through a 3-0 winner against Olympiacos, Bakayoko was hammered by both his manager and the media. It’s the same old problems, his close control and passing.
The ratings of Milan players against Olympiacos. Cutrone MOTM, Bakayoko FOTM [Gazzetta dello Sport] pic.twitter.com/KjV7CFTbF0— Milan Eye (@MilanEye) October 5, 2018
“I’m happy with the result, but we need to play much better in midfield. Our midfield was too easily overrun. Unfortunately, when we find it hard to keep the team compact for the full 90 minutes. We make many errors in the way we circulate the ball. We have to improve this aspect if we want to play better and keep winning.
“Bakayoko is struggling right now, but we need him. We need everyone. We tried the 4-4-2 formation but I’m not satisfied with the performance when we were not in possession.”
Gennaro Gattuso, source: ACMilaninfo
Presumably, his confidence is still in the same millions pieces that it was at the end of his Chelsea term.
And the Italian media is in no mood to help him piece it together again. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say.
“He leaves the impression that the ball is burning when he has it.”
Corriere Dello Sport via Express
“Confused and messy”.
“A disaster. Slow and unprecise, one of his mistakes allows Olympiakos to score the opener”.
Gazzetta dello Sport
One can only hope that Bakayoko has learned to avoid reading his own reviews. And that he somehow regains the confidence that helped him play so well for Monaco and their title-winning, Champions League semi-final season.
It was only two years ago. But it must feel like an eternity to poor old Tiémoué.