Tiémoué Bakayoko celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday, which simultaneously served as a reminder that he’s no longer young enough to be called truly just a prospect, but also not only enough to be completely written off after just one season in England.
While he may or may not ever come back to Chelsea — he does have a reasonable buy-option built into his loan, which, if he does well, will presumably be activated by AC Milan — but for now, he’s simply taking his time to settle in to his new surroundings.
“I learned a lot and worked very hard in the Premier League, but I think I might be more suited to Italian football and am very happy that Milan called me.
“I started in some important games at Chelsea and think I gained experience that will serve me well in the future. It didn’t all go positively, but I am very motivated for this new adventure. Milan won so much on an international level and in terms of history. I wouldn’t want to be at any other club.”
“I’ll try to bring my best to the squad. There are many Serie A players I was inspired by, like Paolo Maldini, George Weah and Marco van Basten. As for comparisons with Marcel Desailly, I hope to have the same success he had at Milan.”
AC Milan may retain the cachet of their glory years, but they haven’t really been a force to reckon with for some time now.
Their latest attempt to get back to the big time involves new management and new coaching, with club legend Gennaro Gattuso taking over from Vincenzo Montella last November and signing a three-year commitment in April ... soon followed by tabloid gossip of Conte taking over. Gattuso remains in charge for now, but Bakayoko does see plenty of similarities between the two former midfielders.
“Gattuso is quite similar to Conte. These are both people who do things with passion. I noticed that even during the first couple of training sessions.”
-Tiémoué Bakayoko; source: Football Italia
Serie A kicks off this weekend and Milan were set to begin their campaign on Sunday, but this opening match against Genoa has been postponed in the wake of the Ponte Morandi bridge collapse that occurred earlier this week (neither Genoa nor Sampdoria will play this weekend). The City of Genoa is still reeling from that tragedy, both on an emotional and on a logistical level.
If and when Bakayoko does take to the pitch, he will be competing for playing time against the likes of Franck Kessié, Lucas Biglia, Riccardo Montolivo, and Andrea Bertolacci. He’s got his work cut out for him, so best of luck to him and the Rossoneri.