Bakayoko a disaster at AC Milan with Chelsea-owned midfielder already being written off

When Tiemoue Bakayoko joined AC Milan on loan before the start of the season, he quickly took to social media to publicly thank the club for rescuing him from his Chelsea nightmare.

“Milan, thank you for believing in me and for all your support,” the midfielder wrote on Instagram. “We’re ready to tackle to the new season.”

Unfortunately, two months on, and Bakayoko still doesn’t look anything like ready to play a significant part in Milan’s 2018-19 Serie A campaign.

Indeed, it would be a major surprise if he sees any game time at all in this weekend’s Derby della Madonnina with city rivals Inter.

After just six appearances in a Milan shirt, there is a sorry lack of belief and support in Bakayoko right now. 

And that is primarily because Bakayoko still looks utterly bereft of confidence in himself.

After his disastrous debut season at Chelsea, the move to Milan was meant to kickstart his career. 

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AC Milan, thank you for believing in me and for all the support … Siamo pronti per affrontare la nuova stagione ???

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“I learned a lot and worked very hard in the Premier League, but I think I might be more suited to Serie A and am very happy that Milan called me,” the France international said after arriving in Milan.

However, Rossoneri coach Gennaro Gattuso already seems to be at his wit’s end with Bakayoko, who has proven just as out of his depth in Italy as he was in England.

The former Milan midfielder initially argued that the language barrier was proving a hindrance, claiming that an inability to communicate with his team-mates was holding the Frenchman back.

Soon after, though, Gattuso admitted that Bakayoko simply couldn’t comprehend the concepts he was being asked to embrace, for which he, quite considerately, took full responsibility. 

“Bakayoko needs to be helped, as he is struggling,” he confessed. “The tactics haven’t been drilled into his head yet and, evidently, it’s my fault. 

“We need to do more work with him in training. He has been here for two months and we haven’t yet been able to get him to understand the movements. 

“It is our duty to improve him as a player because he does have a lot of quality but we’re not finding that yet.”

Tiemoue Bakayoko Gattuso PS

That is undeniably true. After four substitute appearances in Serie A and two starts in the Europa League, Bakayoko still looks as lost as he did when he made his Milan debut against Napoli on August 25.

We are not seeing the driving force behind Monaco’s 2016-17 Ligue 1 triumph. We are seeing the confused character that turned in one of the worst individual performances in Premier League history last season, against Watford.

Worryingly, when most recently asked about Bakayoko’s struggles, Gattuso suggested that the 24-year-old is lacking not only certain fundamental skills, but also the most rudimentary understanding of the game.

“Bakayoko has to learn how to get the ball,” he argued. “We must work correctly with him. It will not be easy.

“One week is not enough to remove the defects of a player.”

Whatever the veracity of that statement, it certainly will have done nothing to restore the confidence of a player who has not looked right, mentally, since enduring a disastrous debut for France against Spain in March 2017.

Indeed, it is worth noting that he hasn’t played for Les Bleus since. Though he helped Monaco win Ligue 1 and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League that year, his performances tailed off dramatically towards the business end of that season, at fault for both goals in the 2-0 semi-final first-leg defeat to Juventus.

He has yet to rediscover his best form and, after being immediately deemed surplus to requirements by new Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri during the summer, the worry now is that his situation at San Siro is already irrecoverable.

Only last week, the Corriere dello Sport reported that Milan now want to cut short his loan stay and return him to Stamford Bridge in January. 

Tiemoue Bakayoko Raggi PS

That is unlikely to happen, though, given Sarri already thinks his squad is too big and also ranks Bakayoko below even Danny Drinkwater in the midfield pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

Secondly, while Milan are looking to bring in Lucas Vazqueta and another central midfielder during the winter break, they would not be willing to renege on their €5m season-long loan of Bakayoko for no other reason than to retain a back-up for Franck Kessie & Co.

Still, Bakayoko will almost certainly be returned to Chelsea at the end of the season, with Milan presently refusing to even entertain the idea of paying an additional €35m to make the transfer permanent.

Few other clubs would be interested in Bakayoko at that price, either, meaning Chelsea are likely to have accept a significant loss on their €40m investment if they are to remove him from their books next summer.

There are those, though, that Bakayoko can still get back to his best; that his technical problems are confidence-related.

As former Monaco team-mate Andrea Raggi told the Gazzetta dello Sport , “When he arrived at Monaco from Rennes in 2014, it took him a while to adapt there too. He only started making an impact in the second season. 

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“I think Tiemoue needs to be put in the best condition to express himself the way he can. He has to feel important and mustn’t have too much pressure on his shoulders, at least not at the start.”

After a disastrous 18 months, though, the pressure to prove himself is only intensifying. He needs belief and support more than ever before.

However, with Chelsea having already given up on him, and Milan set to follow suit, the question is where he’s going to get any from.


Maguire hints he could still be interested in Man Utd move

Harry Magurie has opened the door to a potential move to Manchester United in the future, insisting it would be “difficult” for him if a ‘giant’ club were to make a move for his services.

England defender Maguire has emerged as one of the top centre-backs in the Premier League, impressing during the World Cup and at the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Indeed, United were keen on securing a deal for the 25-year-old in the summer transfer window, only for the club to fail to meet Leicester’s £75 million ($99m) demands.

Maguire ultimately remained at the King Power Stadium and signed a new five-year deal but he admits that, with his Champions League ambitions factored in, he would have a tough decision to make should one of Europe’s top clubs make a move to sign him again.

When asked about one of football’s “giant” clubs potentially bidding for him in the future, he told BBC Sport:  “Yes, definitely it would be a difficult one.

“I’m an ambitious player. If you’re not an ambitious footballer, you’re in the wrong game really.

“Everyone wants to play at the top level, everyone wants to play in the biggest tournaments in the world, so obviously the Champions League is one.”

Despite the speculation over his future, Maguire felt he owed Leicester for their support as his performances for the club ultimately led to him earning a regular place in the England squad.

He added: “I want to concentrate fully on Leicester this year. See where it takes the club and see where we go from there.

“The platform they gave me to go and play at a World Cup is something I’ll never forget, so it’s a big part of me wanting to show something back.

“Since I made my debut at Sheffield United I felt like I could step on and climb the leagues. Signing for Leicester, they gave me a great platform to go and play for England as well.

“My main aim is to be playing week in, week out in the Premier League and to get picked for England. However, I do want to win trophies. I want to win trophies with my country and I want to win trophies at club level.”

Maguire was one of the Three Lions’ star performers at the World Cup in Russia, scoring along the way to help Gareth Southgate reach the semi-final, where they were eventually beaten by Croatia.

On the goal against Sweden in the quarters, Maguire noted it was the “biggest adrenaline rush I have ever had” but has regrets that England couldn’t reach the final.

He added: “It’s something, when I think about it all, that brings a bit of sadness to me. Although it should be such a happy time, the semi-final still hurts.

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“I always look back at the second half and think we didn’t handle the ball as well as we had done in the tournament.

“I wouldn’t use tiredness as an excuse. Pressure is probably the big thing – it’s a semi-final, you’re so close to it, you don’t want to be the one who makes the mistake.

“Maybe we needed to be braver as a team to keep the ball off the press they were playing.”


African All Stars Transfer News & Rumours: Franck Kessie on PSG and Beijing Guoan’s radar

Kessie on PSG & Beijing Guoan’s radar

French champions PSG and Chinese Super League outfit Beijing Guoan are keeping tabs on AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, Tuttomercatoweb claims.

Beijing Guoan are said to have tabled a salary worth €10m per year for the Ivorian who is on a two-year loan from Atalanta.

Meanwhile, PSG are also monitoring the 21-year-old who has been a crucial part of Gennaro Gattuso’s team if Milan fail to sign him permanently at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Ampomah chasing dream move to Arsenal

Ghana star Nana Opoku Ampomah has seen his form in Belgium spark talk of interest from afar, with the Waasland-Beveren midfielder revealing that it is his dream to link up with Arsenal.

The 22-year-old has recorded five goals in nine appearances this season and hopes to play in the Premier League in the future.

Read Ampomah’s full quotes here on Goal! 

Azarou interest Marseille & Sochaux

French Ligue 1 clubs Marseille and Sochaux are interested in signing Al Ahly striker Walid Azarou in January after helping his side to win the Egyptian Premier League, KingFut reports.

The Morocco international became the highest-ever top scorer in a single Egyptian top-flight campaign with 18 goals last term.

Back in July, Al Ahly rejected a bid worth $10 million from Chinese Super League club Hebei China Fortune for the 23-year-old.

Partey considering Atletico Madrid exit

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey is considering a January exit from the club,  Marca reports.

The 25-year-old has started just two La Liga matches so far this season and he is said to be considering a move elsewhere for more playing time.

Arsenal and PSG are the likely destinations the Ghana international if he leaves in January.

No Colorado move for Anichebe

Colorado Rapids have ruled out a potential move for former Sunderland and Everton forward VIctor Anichebe, MLSsoccer claims.

Although the Nigeria international trained with the MLS outfit during his stay in the United States in September, coach Anthony Hudson is not interested in bolstering his squad with the 30-year-old.

Napoli snub Man Utd’s €45m offer for Ghoulam

Napoli have rejected Manchester United’s €45m offer for left-back Faouzi Ghoulam, according to Radio Kiss Kiss via Calciomercato .

The reports claimed that the Serie A side are keen on keeping the player who moved from Saint-Etienne to Italy in 2014.

The Algeria international just returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines after he tore his ACL in a Uefa Champions League clash against Manchester City last year.

Arsenal plot Sarr move

Arsenal are plotting a move for Rennes star Ismaila Sarr as they plan for the future at the Emirates Stadium, Mirror claims.

The Senegalese winger has scored three goals across all competitions this term and the French Ligue 1 side are set to cash in on him next summer.

Barcelona are among the clubs interested in the 20-year-old.

Galatasaray offer Niasse escape route

Galatasaray are set to offer Oumar Niasse an escape route after a torrid time at Everton this season, according to Fanatik  via Talksport.

The Senegalese striker could bid the Premier League farewell in January after falling down the pecking order in Marcos Silva’s attacking options.

The 28-year-old has been limited to just one start and five substitute appearances this season and Galatasaray are ready to bid again for him after the Toffees turned down a loan move in the summer.

Bakambu on Tottenham’s radar

Tottenham are interested in signing Beijing Guoan star Cedric Bakambu in the ‘very near future’, L’est Republican claims.

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Spurs are said to see the DR Congo international as a backup striker for Harry Kane who spearheads the club’s attack.

Bakambu moved to China from Villarreal in January and he has been a key player in Roger Schmidt’s squad who are placed fourth in the Chinese Super League.

The 27-year-old has scored 19 goals in 23 appearances for the Imperial Guards so far in his debut season.


Spurs have no regrets for not adding players this summer – Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino insisted he had no regrets over not making an off-season signing, saying he was unwilling to be drawn into adding players for the sake of it.

Spurs have won six of their opening eight Premier League games to sit fifth in the table, just two points adrift of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Their fine start to the campaign has come despite no additions in the off-season, which led to some criticism and questions over the strength of Spurs’ squad.

But Pochettino said the club’s lack of moves was the right decision, pointing to their good start to the season.

“We are always trying to improve our squad because football is dynamic,” he told reporters.

“But if you cannot achieve what you need or want, [making signings] because you need to make happy people or act like all the clubs, I think that is not common sense.

“We showed that we do not care. If we don’t need the players who are available to sign then why are we going to sign? That is the point.

“I was happy and am happy with the squad that I have, we have no regrets. When we started the season with three games that we won and we were top of the table people were talking in a different way, [saying] ‘Oh how clever are Tottenham because they keep all the squad from last season’.

“After we lost some games [it] started to make a big impact in the perception. But I need to remind everyone that is our best start after eight games.”

Spurs’ title credentials are set to be put to the test in the next month and a half, with matches against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal to come.

Pochettino said he hoped his squad could stay healthy to get through a busy period.

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“It will be a tough month of competition for us,” he said.

“There are a lot of games ahead and it’s so important to have nearly all the squad fit to compete and play and to give options to rotate and share the games.

“We have seven games in four weeks, and it’s so important to have all fit to compete and to give the level that we want.”


Icardi happy at Inter, wants contract renewal

Inter captain Mauro Icardi is happy to stay with the Serie A giants and is close to signing a new deal despite interest from elsewhere.

Icardi, 25, has been one of Serie A’s most prolific scorers in recent years, having scored at least 20 league goals in three of the previous four seasons.

He is off to a solid start again this year, with three goals in Serie A and a pair in the Champions League, including the winner for Inter against PSV earlier this month. 

That output has led to speculation over his future, with reports linking him to Real Madrid in the past and, more recently, Chelsea.

Icardi reportedly has a €110 million (£97m/$126m) release clause valid for foreign clubs, further clouding his outlook.

However, the Argentina international has now revealed his happiness with Inter, admitting he has had interest from other sides, but his desire to play in the Champions League with the club he joined in 2013 convinced him to remain.

“I’m happy to stay here,” Icardi, who’s current deal expires in 2021, told Sky Italia.

“There have been contacts, but I decided to stay here for myself and my family. I had the dream of playing in the Champions League in the Inter shirt and therefore I couldn’t leave.”

Icardi also confirmed that he hoped to sign a new contract with the club, though he was uncertain if it would be completed prior to the holiday season.

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“We will try to find a renewal, but I don’t know if it will arrive before Christmas.”

Icardi has returned from international duty with Argentina, where he started in their 1-0 loss to Brazil.

He and Inter will face a busy eight-day stretch starting Sunday when they battle local rivals Milan, then a midweek a Champions League date away to Barcelona and a Serie A matchup against Lazio the following Monday.