Chelsea and Manchester United are both interested in signing Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco this summer – but does he pass the Football Manager test?
Bakayoko was one of Monaco’s stars of the season as they won the Ligue 1 title for the first time in 17 years and made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League, but the French side now seem resigned to losing the 22-year-old this summer.
Widespread reports suggest Chelsea are leading the race to get a deal done, but what sort of player would the Blues be getting?
Well, Bakayoko has modelled himself Yaya Toure, who made his name at Monaco before earning a big move, and though any comparisons between the two would be premature, he does have a similar all-action style.
Like his potential team-mate N’Golo Kante, Bakayoko is certainly not a defensive midfielder that simply sits in front of the back four breaking up attacks.
He is powerful, good in the tackle and adept at intercepting, but he also likes to drive forward with the ball, and pops up with the occasional goal, including what proved to be the decisive one in the Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City.
• • • •
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) June 2, 2017
What you need to know
Though Bakayoko excelled this past season, his career certainly hasn’t been one of ups alone.
He grew up in Paris – he wears No.14 in reference to the arrondissement in which he was born – and was highly regarded as a young footballer but suffered a broken leg which kept him sidelined for eight months and cost him a place at the Clairefontaine academy.
It was only Rennes that were willing to take a chance on him after his injury, but Bakayoko himself admits he was not the most focused of individuals and often needed words of guidance from his Under-15 coach Yannick Menu to keep him on track.
As a result, it was not until 19 that Bakayoko was handed his debut in the Rennes first team by Philippe Montanier in August 2013.
Even then he did not immediately establish himself as a regular, but by the end of the season he had done enough in his 28 appearances to convince Monaco he was worth an €8million transfer.
• • • •
• • • •
It’s a move that should have acted as the kickstarter for Bakayoko’s career, but it didn’t work out that way, with the youngster substituted after just 32 minutes of his debut and failing to win the trust of Leonardo Jardim. In his first two seasons at Monaco, he played only 31 times in Ligue 1.
Crucial in getting Bakayoko on track were Claude Makelele, who took over as Monaco’s technical director in January 2016, and Menu, who was also called in to help his former protégé.
The pair gave Bakayoko advice about his behaviour both on and off the pitch which is credited with getting him to the level he is today.
• • • •
• • • •
“He told me that I had a tendency to get distracted. It was true,” Bakayoko told L’Equipe about Makelele’s influence. “I took too many risks, but when you play in this position, you have to be calm and effective. He helped me channel myself.”
Off the pitch, meanwhile, Bakayoko started boxing courses, altered his diet, moved from a flashy villa into a regular apartment and even changed the colour of his car from pink to black.
The changes clearly helped, with Bakayoko establishing himself as a key player for Monaco this past season and winning his first France cap earlier this year. Now he must be careful to make the right next step.
What does Football Manager say?
Among Bakayoko’s best qualities on Football Manager are his strength (17/20), work rate (15/20), stamina (15/20) and pac (15/20), all of which are important attributes for the midfield role he plays.
His passing (13/20), positioning (13/20) and concentration (13/20) are signs of a player with much to learn, particularly on the mental side of the game, but his ratings are sure to rise significantly in FM18 after such a stellar season.