Tiémoué Bakayoko was supposed to be part of our long-term solution in central midfield. But just seven months after arriving as one of the most expensive signings in Chelsea history, he would be completely out of the team. Three months after that, he would play (what will likely prove) his final game for the club.
Over two years later, he’s still haunted by that failure. And motivated by it as well.
“When I leave Chelsea, I have a feeling of failure because it’s a club I loved. There was a trigger because I had gone through all the stages and it was like I had a break in my ambition. I couldn’t do enough. Now I work a lot more.”
Signed on the back of a breakout season at AS Monaco to be the heir apparent to Nemanja Matić and (eventually) strike up a winning partnership with fellow French international N’Golo Kanté, things went awry basically from day one. Matić wasn’t keen on the arrangement and left too soon. Meanwhile, Bakayoko arrived late and injured, made his debut early and injured, earned a catchy song but eventually made it completely untenable for then-manager Antonio Conte to play him. Conte remained a believer to the end (Bakayoko played the full-90 of our FA Cup final victory, for example), but then Conte was gone and Bakayoko himself would soon follow (albeit just on loan, technically).
But that wasn’t the end of the rollercoaster ride for the midfielder, with another season of extreme ups and extreme downs to follow at AC Milan. But he worked through adversity on and off the pitch, and they looked ready to sign him for good for most of the season ... until they didn’t at the end of the season.
So now Bakayoko’s back in Monaco and while he wasn’t looking at it as a step backwards, it’s hard to see it as anything but.
“I didn’t immediately think it [Monaco] was the best option because I really wanted to play with Chelsea. But I felt that it wasn’t going to go the way I wanted it to and Monaco came along. It became a matter, of course.”
-Tiémoué Bakayoko; source: L’Equipe via SI
On the plus side, Bakayoko’s been ever present for his loan club this season, and they do reportedly have a buy-option, if they can afford it. Should Monaco pass however, like Milan did, Bakayoko would be back at Cobham once again, getting reminded of his failures ... or perhaps rising above them and showing his true form at long last?