Tiémoué Bakayoko has come a long way since his first few outings for AC Milan, the club where he is spending his season on loan with the built-in possibility of turning it into a permanent stay.
Gone are the days when his coach publicly lambasted the Chelsea loanee, claiming he had ‘defects’ that could not be corrected in just a few short weeks. Nowadays, Bakayoko’s paying back Gennaro Gattuso’s trust in heaps — even if some of that trust was initially forced by a massive injury crisis that hit the San Siro. The latest includes a Man of the Match (“MVP”) Award, his first in Milan’s famous red-black stripes, in their 1-1 draw with Lazio over the weekend.
Milan were quite close to winning all three points, which would’ve catapulted them over Lazio and into the top four, but a late strike from Joaquín Correa nullified an own goal by defender Wallace (not the former Chelsea loanee flop) to maintain the Serie A’s current order.
As for Bakayoko, his statistics underline his MVP award. Playing next to usual midfield partner Franck Kessié, Bakayoko fare quite well both on and off the ball.
- 70 touches (10.2% of team’s total)
- 36 completed passes (86% success rate)
- 2 passes leading to shots (“chances created”)
- 3 successful take-ons (5 attempted)
- 3 completed tackles, 4 clearances, 4 interceptions
The Italian press were in agreement as well. Calciomercato gave him a 7 out of 10, putting him next to Milan goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Lazio goalscorer Correa as the best performing player on the pitch. Meanwhile, La Gazzetta dello Sport gave him a 6.5, making his Lazio performance his best one yet.
But Bakayoko himself was still frustrated. Not by his own performance necessarily, but rather by Milan’s failure to secure what would’ve been crucial three points in the Champions League qualification race. A proper winning attitude from the 24-year-old.
All he needs to do is to keep up these performances, and not only will the applause come, but soon we will have to start talking about the possibility of Milan activating the €35m buy-option clause and whether Bakayoko should accept or maybe try his luck with Chelsea one more time...