The Curious Case Of Tiemoue Bakayoko's Failed Chelsea Transfer

Chelsea terminated Tiemoue Bakayoko's contract on Friday
08:00, 20 Jun 2023

You may not have noticed this but on Friday Chelsea finally cut ties with Tiemoue Bakayoko, the £40 million flop they signed from Monaco in 2017. The midfielder has been released after making 43 appearances for the Blues, having spent five years and four loan spells away from Stamford Bridge in his six years as a Chelsea player.

Despite playing regularly in his first season in the Premier League and helping Chelsea to an FA Cup victory, Bakayoko failed to make much of an impact in west London. He was not influencing matches as was hoped and he will go down as one of, if not the worst signing they’ve ever made given how much he cost them.

His spells away included a return to Monaco, a year with Napoli and two stints with AC Milan, with his latest lasting the past two campaigns. His most recent time spent at San Siro was hardly productive as he managed just three appearances all season. It begs the question whether, despite looking out of his depth wherever he went, Bakayoko could still persuade decent clubs to come in with short-term offers.


This is a player who loses the ball a lot, struggles to beat a man in possession and just generally looks lost when on the football pitch. Former Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim  deserves a lot of credit for getting Chelsea to part with £40 million for the player all those years ago because Monaco were the clear winners of that deal.

In his first loan spell at Milan, Bakayoko didn’t give manager Gennaro Gatusso the best first impression. He looked out of his depth in his debut against Napoli, which they lost 3-2. The midfielder took to the field early in the second half with Milan 2-1 up, brought on to help tighten up the midfield and defence, and he just looked out of his depth.

Gattuso took a swipe at him in his post-match press conference. He said: “Bakayoko has to learn how to get the ball. One week is not enough to remove the defects of a player. I would have preferred to be managing older, more experienced club players.”


For a player who had been professional for five years at that point, that would’ve been humiliating but a hard truth. Across his three different spells in Italy Bakayoko failed to rediscover any of the form that made him look like a star at Monaco. 

It wasn’t the first time that the pair would clash, with another incident unfolding towards the end of the season. The Italian coach told Bakayoko to warm up during Milan’s 2-1 victory over Bologna but opted to bring on Jose Mauri instead because he thought the former was taking too long to get ready.

“I told Bakayoko to warm up, he took his time and I chose Mauri,” Gattuso told reporters. “I have 27 players, we wear a glorious shirt and I must be objective and honest in everything I do. I waited seven or eight minutes, he still had not put on his shin pads so I made that choice.”

This called into question Bakayoko’s attitude and professionalism, especially when Bakayoko was caught telling his coach to “f*** off” after an altercation on the touchline. 

It is no wonder that none of his loan clubs have picked up the buy options available. It would’ve soon become clear to Chelsea that not only were they not going to recoup the fee they paid for Bakayoko but that they would also struggle to get the player off the books altogether. Milan had an option to take Bakayoko full time as part of the latest loan spell for €15 million. 

Chelsea were not only being left to regret the initial transfer in 2017 but also the contract extension they agreed two years ago that would take his stay at the club to 2024. However, rather than go over old ground and have the player on the books while out on another unsuccessful loan, they finally made the call to terminate his contract. Both parties need a fresh start from this nightmare but who actually takes a gamble on a player who has underwhelmed for over half a decade?

Blues supporters will be hoping that they won’t be seeing Chelsea make more poor investments like this. However, given the volume of signings that they have made in the past 12 months, some of which were signed on long-term contracts, there is a chance that history could repeat itself.

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