From pariah to messiah, Tiémoué Bakayoko’s amazing journey at Milan has been well documented. His loan however took a severe turn for the worse in recent weeks, both on and off the pitch, in terms of both footballing and human issues. What was once looking like the start of a wonderful long-term relationship was slowly disintegrating.
Milan’s failure to qualify for the Champions League, confirmed this weekend on the final matchday of the 2018-19 Serie A, was the last straw. Head coach Gennaro Gattuso and director Leonardo have both left amid incoming spending cuts, the former even forgoing his own compensation by agreeing to do so by “mutual agreement”. Activating the €35m buy-option in Bakayoko’s loan contract is now a practical impossibility.
And so, the 24-year-old bid farewell to Milan on Instagram today as well.
Despite yesterday’s victory we failed to reach our goal and finish the top 4 to offer you the Champions next season. This disappointment does not erase everything and I wish to thank you.
Thank you for your support, which is all the more beautiful and sincere that the beginning of our relationship was complicated.
Thank you for your love when I experienced more difficult moments.
Thanks for your song that often resonates in my head.
Thank you all for encouragement on the street or on social media.
Thank you for making San Siro a unique stadium.
Thank you for these beautiful memories that will accompany me everywhere and forever.
See you soon.
And that “soon” could be next season already as rumors of Bakayoko linking up with Antonio Conte (ironic!) at Inter Milan have already begun. (In fairness, the biggest problem for Bakayoko and Conte was that Matic decided to leave instead of helping train up his successor.)
But if Bakayoko does not move somewhere else, his place will be back at Stamford Bridge where he has three more years left on his contract. Chelsea’s transfer ban could even get him another good opportunity to earn his place, especially if a new head coach is appointed as well.
Bakayoko has had a rather interesting couple years, but his willingness to work hard and turn his situation around at Milan does reveal a strong character. He just needs the right circumstances to support and enable him. Whether that’ll be at Chelsea or somewhere else, remains to be seen — Milan were almost willing to €35m; perhaps others will as well.