As Chelsea center backs Fikayo Tomori and Antonio Rüdiger have elaborated upon recently, expecting players to make major career decisions in the final few hours of transfer windows is not exactly always feasible or reasonable. That teams yet persist with doing business in this way remains one of the more baffling aspects of the business of football.
That said, sometimes good things can happen quickly and in the last minute, such as in the case of Tiémoué Bakayoko, who joined Napoli just ahead of the deadline. The loan materialized in a bit of whirlwind, as one of his entourage revealed in a recent interview.
“How did the Bakayoko negotiation with Napoli start? This was an operation that was started and closed in a short time.
“For several weeks Tiémoué was on the lips of other top-level clubs, he has always training with the second Chelsea team. [...] Now he finds Gattuso. A player of great international experience that the club has made available to the coach.”
-Pasquale Sensibile; Source: Radio Kiss Kiss via Area Napoli
So what was the difference between that and Chelsea’s attempts to offload one of our extra center backs? The answer is fairly obvious. Personal contacts and relationships are often at the heart of business, and this was no different. Bakayoko’s previous experience and good relationship with Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso was they key to unlocking this deal.
“Gattuso convinced me and I’m very happy to join a great team. I also want to thank Gattuso for letting me come here. [...] I’m very happy to be here, the team has welcomed me in an amazing way. I’m very happy with my teammates, I’m happy with my new home here.”
-Tiémoué Bakayoko; source: Football-Italia
Let’s hope that happiness leads to even better results on and off the pitch than their time together at AC Milan a couple years ago, when they finished fifth but neither ended up staying for much longer.