Wednesday October 17 2018
What’s eating Bakayoko?

It was reported this week that Milan could send Tiemoue Bakayoko back to Chelsea, and Tom Scholes wonders what’s happened to the talent we saw at Monaco.

Cast your mind back to the 2016/2017 season. Monaco had just become the first team since Montpellier in 2012 to win Ligue 1 and the team to break the Paris Saint-Germain monopoly in France’s top division.

They had reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, beating Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund before falling at the final hurdle to Juventus. The team captured the attention and imagination of European football fans with players such as Kylian Mbappe and Bernardo Silva taking the headlines with some incredible performances. Inevitably, the Ligue 1 winning squad was dismantled.

Silva went to Manchester City alongside Benjamin Mendy, Kylian Mbappe joined PSG, Valerie Germain joined Marseille and Tiemoue Bakayoko joined Chelsea for £40M. A lot was expected of every young player that departed the club in that summer but a lot of expectation and attention was placed upon the shoulders of Bakayoko, as he joined the then Premier League champions and, perhaps unfairly, was compared to Claude Makelele and was expected to partner N’Golo Kante in a very strong looking Chelsea midfield under Antonio Conte.

At Monaco, Bakayoko made a somewhat slow start and had to change his mindset to suit what Leonardo Jardim wanted. At first, Bakayoko had to change living in his luxury villa in Monte Carlo to a regular apartment, he changed the colour of his car from pink to black, changed his diet and took boxing classes to, essentially, become a “proper” professional footballer instead of someone who only enjoyed living the lifestyle.

Bakayoko had the natural talent to dominate a midfield with his strength but also to run the game with his passing and technical ability, but he needed that kick up the backside from the likes of Jardim and Claude Makelele who had been brought in to Monaco as a technical director and took it upon himself to guide Bakayoko.

It’s no coincidence that with the right guidance, the right system and the right environment, Bakayoko flourished at Monaco and the hefty fee paid by Chelsea - their second highest transfer fee at the time - was completely justified. On paper, a midfield duo of the dynamic Bakayoko and Kante sounded superb. It sounded like the perfect Conte midfield; energetic, intelligent and defensively sound.

But unlike his time at Monaco where he was allowed to learn and had the right figures in the background keeping him on his toes, Bakayoko didn’t seem to have this at Chelsea. After his sending off in the 4-1 away defeat against Watford, Bakayoko only made five more appearances after playing all but two games in the first part of the Premier League season.

The Frenchman didn’t look confident. It’s easy to say that the toxic nature of Chelsea last season helped him find some sort of excuse but the reality is the lack of confidence affected Bakayoko’s form. He scored twice for Chelsea in the Premier League but his overall performances never justified the Makelele comparisons.

With Conte gone and Maurizio Sarri entering Stamford Bridge, expectation was 100 per cent the opposite of the previous season. In 2017, Bakayoko was expected to become a stalwart of the new-look Chelsea midfield, but in 2018 he was expected to be let go from the club. Was his mentality not prepared to take harsh criticism? Did he need to get away from a club like Chelsea where there was a different level of expectation to what he had at Monaco?

Chelsea were keen to loan him out and Milan were more than happy to take him, and why wouldn’t they? Based off of his performance at Monaco, Bakayoko had the potential to be a star for the Rossoneri and a club that didn’t have the same level of expectation of Chelsea and could bleed Bakayoko into a system.

Unfortunately for Milan, the Bakayoko at Monaco clearly hasn’t shown up in Italy, almost like his identical, albeit less talented brother arrived to take his place. Coach Gennaro Gattuso has already spoken about Bakayoko, warning: “he needs to learn how to keep the ball. One week is not enough to learn and to remove the defects of the player. I would have preferred to be managing older, more experienced club players.”

After six rather poor performances and some mistakes against Olympiakos in the UEFA Europa League, Milan are reportedly ready to send Bakayoko back to Chelsea because, by the looks of things, his mentality hasn’t improved at all and he’s still affected by some of his poor performances. We can only assume and speculate what Bakayoko is feeling or what he’s doing in his spare time, but all signs seem to be pointing towards the fact he simply hasn’t grown up after leaving Monaco. If you need people at your club to continuously keep you on your toes and to always remind you how to be a professional, you aren’t going to be around for very long.

Will Gattuso give Bakayoko time? Rumour is that Milan are giving Bakayoko six games to prove himself and it seems to be more than just a performance based issue here. If Bakayoko has history of not always being in the right frame of mind and letting that affect his performances, Milan are well within their right to give him another shot and let him go if he doesn’t improve.

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Have your say...
The signing made no sense at the very beginning, just reflects the bad management of the club over the last 18 months, shipped out Locatelli as well. Hopefully Maldini will stop anything like this in the near future (transfer wise), Luckily we didn't ship out Cutrone too!
on the 20th October, 2018 at 9:14am
If Conte of all people couldn't get him to be an effective destroyer than he has no chance. Conte's teams play to Bakayoko's supposed strengths so he should have shined like a diamond.

Consensus in the comments section for the first time ever - it must be true. He's not all he's hyped up to be.
on the 20th October, 2018 at 12:02am
Juve Kenya
Finally someone who understands what I am saying!
Why bring in these below Amateur level players and leave genuine Italian talent out! He isn't the only one! I would say half the rubbish in Serie A needs to go!
on the 19th October, 2018 at 1:14pm
This guy is a con job. It's no wonder the Italian national team is suffering if Locatelli can be forced out for Bakayoko to play. This is a disaster! Maldini and Leornado will repair this am sure.
on the 18th October, 2018 at 10:58pm
I've seen it said once or twice but just to reiterate bakayoko was massively overrated at monaco - just a product of being young and physically gifted in a side with loads of young talent. he was at fault for two juve goals during the semifinals alone.
on the 18th October, 2018 at 1:00pm
@ Ron - Yes Barca, Bayarn and Real will sign him in January- if you listen to his agent. All Inter were guilty of were paying too much for him. He got plenty time on the park but could not hack it because he was not good enough.
on the 18th October, 2018 at 9:08am
The header should have been rather 'That's Bakayoko eating!' :D
on the 18th October, 2018 at 8:05am
Bakayoko does not know how to receive a pass...Until Milan have a world class manager and stop constantly changing the squad for no reason we will not get anywhere. It's concerning that we're not a January yet and we're already looking to add 3 new players (none of whom have any pace). At this rate we'll be set for another revolution next summer and the cycle of dysfunction will continue.
on the 18th October, 2018 at 1:19am
replacement for Biglia. But instead we signed Bakayoko which pushed Locatelli out and while we're at it we alienated Montolivo who apparently was no longer good enough to play for Milan after blocking Locatelli's progress last season. If we really needed cover for Kessie we could've got Yaya Toure for free and at least, at his age, he would've been more content to sit on the bench and not block Locatelli. Having gone through that transfer merry-go-round it's not really acceptable to hear that
on the 18th October, 2018 at 1:17am
One thing that I can say about Bakayoko's signing rather than the player is he was just yet another example of a totally pointless Milan transfer. We already had Kessie so we didn't need another player like him. Meanwhile we had Locatelli whose progress was being blocked by a plethora of midfielders. So we really didn't need another one. The beauty of Locatelli was he could've played across the midfield 3 and so could've rotated him with the other three and had a long term (or even short term)
on the 18th October, 2018 at 1:13am
to manage any side with ambitions of European football. I am not sure how we can judge the literally hundreds of players who have passed through Milan's, ahem, books during that period. Indeed that is the real question that journalists should be focusing on. What exactly is going on in the world of football where supposedly top professional footballers are being moved around like cattle. I'm sure there'll be lots of answers in the books.
on the 18th October, 2018 at 1:09am
I have no opinion on Bakayoko. He's played about 5 minutes. I also don't really have an opinion on any of the approx 149 players that Milan have signed or re-signed in the past 7 seasons since Milan sold Ibra and Thiago Silva. I have no opinion either on the approx 326 players that Milan have sold or loaned out or re-loaned or let ago in that period. I do have some opinions on the 7 managers that Milan have had since Allegri. My main opinion is that the vast majority of them were not qualified
on the 18th October, 2018 at 1:06am
@ Hypocrisy - Politics & Football.
Kondogbia is doing well in Valencia. I think the blame in that case is all Inter's.
on the 17th October, 2018 at 8:21pm
I've been saying Bakayoko is wrong for Milan all along.
Whatever the issue is, the guy consistently puts in amateurish performances and doesn't deserve to wear Rossonerri shirt atm.
on the 17th October, 2018 at 6:17pm
Pretty simple, he was vastly overrated at Monaco where he played in a team with far better players that made him look better than he is. He was terrible in the knockout games against Juve.
on the 17th October, 2018 at 5:28pm
"...and a club that didn’t have the same level of expectation of Chelsea" must be kidding. Playing for AC Milan is one of the heaviest shirts you can wear in football...just look at the history Mr. Scholes. Even very good players struggle with the pressure (see Biglia initially). Maybe that might also be the problem too with Monaco you're expectations arent as high as in top clubs so it was easier to play more freely
on the 17th October, 2018 at 2:49pm
He's rubbish - simple as that, really.
on the 17th October, 2018 at 11:54am
Same thing that was eating Kondogbia; lack of talent in an extremely technical environment.
on the 17th October, 2018 at 11:15am
If this article is true Baky needs to take up football lessons not boxing lessons. If Gattuso saying Baky needs to learn to keep the ball that really does speak volumes, send him back to his luxury appartment and pink car in Monte Carlo and let the french deal with him. This highlights how weak the french league is if a player so bad was made to look so good, no wonder Balotelli made it back into the national team he must look like Pele over there..
on the 17th October, 2018 at 11:08am
What's eating him, the question is why are we feeding him! This guy is absolute rubbish. He is paid in a week more than a normal person gets in 2 or even 3 years yet my 90 year old nonna would be more productive than this absolute melon.
I mean there are rubbish players in this world but they never see past semi-pro but this guy has some how found his way into the big time and earning big time.
This is the exact type of player that shouldn't be taking places away from Italian players!
on the 17th October, 2018 at 10:57am

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