Not too long ago, we were wondering if Chelsea midfielder Tiémoué Bakayoko would be able to overcome the terrible first impression left by his first few matches in his season-long loan stint at AC Milan. Slowly, that question has morphed from ‘if’ to ‘when’.
The Italian national press is no longer breathing down his neck, his coaches are happier, and the San Siro’s whistles are slowly ebbing away as well. And it is this last part that is most important to Bakayoko.
“The whistles don’t please me, but I understand. I hope they’ll applaud me soon. I’ve done some good things, but we’re only at the beginning. I hope to be decisive and make Milan one of the best four teams in Serie A.”
One of the (many) issues pointed out by Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso was Bakayoko’s inability to speak Italian, claiming that it would likely hamper his adaptation to the dressing room. Thankfully, there were people ready to help Bakayoko in this regard, including Franck Kessié, with whom he’s also struck up a solid midfield partnership on the pitch.
“Franck Kessié has helped me to settle in, especially in terms of learning the language, and I hope to be able to speak Italian soon.”
It’s also helped that Gattuso shares a few characteristics with Conte, who had kept faith in Bakayoko above and beyond most others last season, probably to his own detriment.
“Conte and Gattuso are a bit similar. They give a lot, and they ask the same from their players in return, both in the game in training. They have the same way of working.”
-Tiémoué Bakayoko; source: Sky Italia via Football Italia
It remains too soon to say that Bakayoko will turn his fortunes around in Italy, and whether that might motivate AC Milan to exercise their buy-option, even. His time at Chelsea was similarly inconsistent, oscillating week in and week out between good and outrageously bad.
Hopefully he can stay on track for success this time.