What Does Tiemoué Bakayoko Bring to Chelsea?
After a drawn-out transfer saga and £40 million, Tiemoué Bakayoko has joined Chelsea FC as their most expensive midfield signing ever, topping the £32 million the Blues dropped on N'Golo Kante last season.
Bakayoko is the latest of AS Monaco's young stars to leave the ward of Fontvieille, and he boasts a Ligue 1 title and a Champions League semifinal finish as he transitions to working under manager Antonio Conte in London.
Like several other young Monaco talents, Bakayoko exploded into international view this past season as Les Rouges et Blancs charmed the footballing world with tenacity and youth, a much different display from the high-spending identity the club portrayed in recent years, best displayed by the initial signings of Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho.
Falcao is back and scoring and Moutinho has been a rock for a few years now, but they were hardly the recognizable stars of the campaign thanks to Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and, of course, the fabulous midfield pairing of Fabinho and Bakayoko, who were the engine of the French champions.
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With such extensive firepower in front of him, Bakayoko excelled at torturing his midfield opposition. Determined at winning the ball and controlling possession, the 22-year-old could often be seen making use of his 6'1", 170-pound frame to take control of the ball and starting counters or maintain the flow of the game.
However, Bakayoko is not just a physical bully. It's an important part of his game, but Bakayoko's real potential is with his vision and touch. The Frenchman is always looking forward, and his tendency to storm into space after winning possession has had more impact on Monaco's scoring then his stat line would let you believe.
Bakayoko's ability to dribble past defenders allowed Monaco's attack to worry less about transitioning into attack and instead focus on getting in dangerous positions. This is not to mention his knack for picking out a pass, which is somewhat shown in the radar below, which is courtesy of Football Radars.
Tiemoue Bakayoko - Ligue 1 16/17 [for @ThatMunichNight] pic.twitter.com/fpsJNfEIvq
— Football Radars (@FussballRadars) May 2, 2017
The only real downside Chelsea may have with the youngster is losing Nemanja Matic's experience and passing. At 28, Matic is in his prime and recorded his highest assist total ever last season, notching assists in the Premier League.
As Bakayoko continues to play top-level football, his playmaking ability from deep ought to improve, as well. He's shown that he can control the game with his tackling and dribbling, but finding more killer through balls and long passes could elevate his game to an even higher level.
Chelsea have grabbed themselves a player who should slide nicely into Conte's system as well as one that has potential to become a key player for the Blues for years to come. Now, it's just a matter of time until Bakayoko begins setting the tempo in West London.