Tiemoue Bakayoko is quite an unlucky footballer. After a great couple of seasons at AS Monaco, the Frenchman earned his big move, transferring to Chelsea in the summer of 2017. At £40 million, Bakayoko was second in the list of Chelsea’s most expensive transfers after Fernando Torres, but like the Spaniard, Bakayoko could also be deemed a flop.
After just one season in the Premier League, where he made over 40 appearances in all competitions under former manager Antonio Conte, the Frenchman did not get a look-in under current manager Maurizio Sarri, who perhaps thought that Bakayoko’s technical and ball retention skills, which are key in his style of play, weren’t good enough.
He was shipped off to Italian club AC Milan, where he has had a mixed season. He has shown his brilliance on a few occasions but has also had a bust-up with mercurial manager Gennaro Gattuso. With Chelsea nowhere near the title race in the Premier League, and Sarri’s key midfield man, Jorginho, not orchestrating the team from midfield, as he did at Napoli under Sarri, Chelsea need to rethink their midfield options, and Bakayoko may get another opportunity to show what he’s capable of.
Should he receive another chance?
Bakayoko is an all-action midfielder who does quite a few things right but isn’t necessarily great at any one aspect of the game. The Frenchman can tackle, retrieve the ball, go from box to box with power and energy, while also being a neat passer of the ball.
Physically strong and capable of brushing past the opposition with the ball, Bakayoko’s first year at Chelsea saw pundits and fans being critical of his decision-making and consistency on the pitch.
But, the Chelsea management were perhaps a little too harsh on a player who was playing in a completely different league, which is far superior to Ligue 1 and did not give him enough time to adapt. Chelsea have sorely lacked a strong player who can go from box to box, which is what Bakayoko is. At AC Milan this year, Bakayoko has completed an average of 2.2 tackles per game with a pass percentage of 86.3% – numbers which may not force Sarri to put him back in the side, but we must remember that this is a Milan side that finished 5th in the league, 30 points behind champions Juventus.
With star midfielder, N’Golo Kante played out of position by Sarri this season, the Italian manager may need to tweak his tactics and formations to get the best out of Kante and Jorginho, in their preferred positions. The likes of Barkley and Kovacic (on loan from Real Madrid) have not been consistent enough this season, and it’s perhaps time to give Bakayoko another chance next season, to complement the duo of Kante and Jorginho.