Milan are being linked with a possible reunion with former loanee Tiemoue Bakayoko, and with issues in our midfield, a second spell would arguably make sense.
Off the back of a disappointing debut campaign with Chelsea in the 2017/18 season, the 25-year-old arrived at Milan in August 2018 looking to get his career back on track and to rediscover his form at Monaco which saw him become one of the top midfield talents in Europe.
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He didn’t get off to the best of starts with us as he was limited to a bit-part role in the opening months of the season, and it was evident that he was still lacking confidence and consistency in his play as he was making some costly mistakes and appeared to be struggling to adapt to Italian football.
However, from the end of October onwards, he became a fundamental part of our side. He started 26 out of a possible 29 Serie A games, while we lost just four times in fixtures where he was involved.
Bakayoko provided a solid foundation for us in midfield with his physicality, agility and defensive coverage gradually helping him emerge as a pillar of the XI, while his ability to make powerful, penetrating runs forward from midfield also added a different dynamic in that department too.
His transformation was impressive, as for a player who looked completely devoid of confidence and who appeared a shadow of the player he was just two seasons previous, he turned his spell with us around and undoubtedly became a popular figure with the fans.
Now, MilanNews notes via the paper edition of Tuttosport, that Bakayoko has ‘sent signals’ to Milan that he would like to return, but two key obstacles are noted. Not only would he have to take a significant wage cut, but Chelsea would also have to lower their demands having valued him at €35m last year.
Those are two important issues, and so time will tell if the relevant compromises can be reached to ensure that this is a genuine possibility in the summer.
Would Bakayoko still be a good fit for us a year on?
In short, yes. Ismael Bennacer has solidified his spot in the heart of the side, but there is still arguably a place up for grabs in terms of finding the ideal midfield partner for him if we continue with a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 system.
Franck Kessie has ultimately continued to underwhelm, as while he offers energy, solidity and physicality next to Bennacer, his limited influence on games both in terms of his ability on the ball and the lack of progress he has made in the final third mean that he’s arguably still at risk of losing his place in the XI.
Bakayoko showed he’s capable of stamping his mark on games more consistently during his time with us previously, and his presence in the side could even allow Bennacer more freedom to break forward to become more of a threat in an attacking sense as he has the technical quality and creativity to be more impactful in that phase of the game.
Provided the key issues detailed in the report above fall into place and make it a sensible swoop for Milan, Bakayoko’s presence in the squad could provide us with a crucial boost as he can also now draw on his previous experience in Italy to offer further reassurance over his ability to adapt successfully.
Further, with Sky Sport Italia noting that Lucas Biglia has all-but confirmed that he will leave us when his current contract expires at the end of the season, there is a need for additional quality competition and depth for that defensive midfield role, and Bakayoko could be a solution.
Perhaps not as the primary target though…
While Bakayoko’s potential return to perhaps take Kessie’s spot in the side makes sense, there are other options that should arguably be prioritised ahead of him depending on how limited our spending is this summer and if we were to move back to a three-man midfield in the future.
As noted by Calciomercato last month, Milan are said to hold an interest in Sandro Tonali, while MilanNews noted the likes of Samuele Ricci, Dominik Szobozlai and Teun Koopmeiners could also be on our radar.
Much depends on what system and style of play will be adopted next season, but these individuals are capable of providing more on the ball and have more to their all-round game than Bakayoko.
In turn, if we’re eying a Bennacer-Bakayoko-Tonali midfield or the like for example, then by all means it would be a great double swoop. However, it’s hoped that a push to seal a reunion with Bakayoko doesn’t mean we lose sight of some of the other targets said to be on our transfer shortlist for the summer.