Tiémoué Bakayoko’s career resurrection has been one of the feel-good stories of this year’s Loan Army, and it’s one that should have a mutually beneficial ending for all parties involved. There is a €35m buyout clause built into his season-long loan, which AC Milan are expected to activate as long as they qualify for the Champions League — they look on course to do so at the moment, sitting in fourth place in the Serie A.
Bakayoko has been instrumental to that success, despite his horrendous start to life at the club. He’s talked about that repeatedly over in recent months, so we’re going to skip that part of his interview with Bros.|Stories (looks like a French version of The Players’ Tribune) who profiled the 24-year-old for the “New Life” series.
The interview and associated video (embedded at the top) are in French, but YouTube’s subtitles work quite well in this case as Bakayoko talks about life in Milan, how much he loves the club, the city, and life in general. He clearly sees himself there long term, but he also isn’t shying away from facing the demons of his time at Chelsea and learning all that he can from it.
“I left Chelsea because I felt that the club didn’t want me anymore. I was disappointed, obviously. I stayed for a year, which didn’t go according to plan.
“It was an easy and difficult decision to make [to leave] because Chelsea is Chelsea, and I didn’t think I showed what I was capable of there, so as a competitor, that’s disappointing. I was an easy decision however because I don’t think the manager was counting on me, and AC Milan is hard to refuse. It happened fast; I wasn’t unhappy but sad [...] it went fast from the moment I knew for sure that Milan wanted me.
“I’m not going to lie, you take a hit. [...] It was not an easy thing to live through, and it was probably the first bad moment of my career. Being in a club that doesn’t want you for next season, it was not easy but I think you have to experience moments like this. It helped me a lot to go through [that]; I’m more ready to face difficult moments now, I think I’m more prepared.”
-Tiémoué Bakayoko; source: Bros.|Stories
Bakayoko’s been on a solid upwards trajectory since Gattuso famously declared him broken beyond repair; eventually, the next setback will arrive that he will have to face head on. But he’s proven capable of working through his issues and difficulties and that’s never a bad quality to have on your CV. Whether Bakayoko stays in Milan for good or ends up back at Chelsea for some reason, he will be a better player for it.