The resurrection of Tiémoué Bakayoko continues at AC Milan, as the former problem-midfielder and worst signing ever made it back-to-back Man of the Match awards this weekend and has reached a new level of praise from all observers, fans, media, and head coach alike.
The ratings of Milan Players in the match of Milan vs Parma According to Gazzetta— ROSSONERI NEWS ⚫⚽️ (@rossonerinew) December 3, 2018
FOTM CALHANOGLU pic.twitter.com/ZutrHIi989
Bakayoko 6.5: sumptuous master of the midfield. Player totally rediscovered.
But fans and media can be fickle; it’s the praise from head coach Gennaro Gattuso that’s most meaningful in its 180 degree turnaround from the start of the 24-year-old’s loan spell at the club.
“The biggest surprise is seeing how he has improved in reading situations during the game on. On a tactical level, I’m surprised. He completely bought into the things we showed him on video.”
“It was also nice to see the appreciation from the fans as well. With my [assistant manager Luigi] Riccio, I said that it seemed like we were watching [Marcel] Desailly, and maybe Bakayoko is a bit more technical.”
-Gennaro Gattuso; source: Forza Italian Football
Surely, vindicated as he may feel for sticking by his man, Gattuso’s going just a bit overboard here by putting Bakayoko on the level of — or even on a higher technical tier! — than the legendary Marcel Desailly, one of the greatest defensive players of all time (whether in defense or defensive midfield)!
“Bakayoko’s biggest surprise is his improvement on a tactical level. We knew the physical abilities he has. I like for how he listens, for how he moves.”
“You are seeing a Bakayoko who closes more lines of passage, impacts more and pinches forward. It’s what he missed earlier, today he does not touch it more than twice, it’s an important sign.”
-Gennaro Gattuso; source: Calciomercato
Even though Bakayoko had some terrible games for Chelsea — that two-match sequence against Bournemouth and Watford comes to mind — his performances towards the end of last season gave hope that he may yet fulfill the promise that led to Chelsea paying £40 million to AS Monaco for his services.
Having rediscovered that promise, perhaps Milan, too, may yet be convinced to shell out €35 million of their own money, to activate the buy-option included in Bakayoko’s loan contract.