One of Chelsea’s most significant summer sagas was their pursuit of Tiemoue Bakayoko. However, is he an upgrade on Nemanja Matic?
Chelsea’s summer transfer activity has been subject to much debate and criticism. The Blues failed to sign a raft of players before making a couple of last-minute moves on transfer deadline day. One player who was signed relatively early on, Tiemoue Bakayoko, has impressed so far and N’Golo Kante has backed the Frenchman to step up to the plate.
I had the chance to play one year with [Matic] and he was a very good player for me…Bakayoko has come and I think he’s a good player, and that we can do very well with him. – via Goal
Matic’s Stamford Bridge departure caused a few fans to scratch their heads. Chelsea did not have excessive depth but they were willing to sell one of their most important players over the last three seasons. Not only that, they were willing to sell him to direct rivals, Manchester United.
Many thought it was time that Matic and Chelsea parted ways, though. With Bakayoko now in West London, there was no need for the Serbian.
However, Matic has been instrumental for the Blues. Jose Mourinho re-signed him and he was arguably Chelsea’s best player during their successful 2014/15 campaign. Playing alongside Cesc Fabregas, he carried the entire defensive workload in the midfield and he did it with ease.
The next season, he was terrible but the whole squad were poor. In fact, it was only then that it became apparent how key Matic was to the club’s success. His disappointing performances exposed the defensive frailties of the team.
When Antonio Conte arrived, he formed a solid partnership with Kante. Fabregas was largely limited to substitute appearances while his two colleagues dominated the midfield in almost every game. Matic may not have been supplying the eye-catching creativity and flair that Fabregas does, but he was evidently a vital cog in the machine.
Bakayoko has been tasked to replace the Serbian and so far he is doing a great job. He has adapted to Conte’s tactics, as well as the Premier League’s style of play, like a duck to water. Watching him play alongside Kante has been both exciting and encouraging.
However, is he an upgrade on Matic? Will he able to maintain his form throughout the season? Matic is also proving his quality in Manchester United’s midfield, so what do you think? Join the conversation on facebook.
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Zappacosta: ‘Best night of my career’
Davide Zappacosta has “no doubt” that his home Chelsea debut was the best night of his career, describing it as “beautiful chaos”.
The Italian international scored on his first appearance at Stamford Bridge in the 6-0 win over Qarabag, though he later admitted he hadn’t actually meant it.
“Honestly, before I shot I was looking in the penalty box for an unmarked teammate,” Zappacosta reiterated in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Then I kicked it and at that point I didn’t understand anything. I went through those moments in a genuine trance: the ball in the net, the celebrations of the fans, the embrace from my teammates.
“It was total chaos, but a beautiful chaos.
“The best night of my career? Without a doubt. I’ve never experienced a story like this. My Champions League debut, my first match for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and a spectacular goal. All perfect.
“I’m the 100th Italian player to score in the Champions League? I didn’t actually know that, it makes it even more perfect. I hope I don’t wake up and realise it was all a dream!
“When we were warming-up I noticed that the stadium was half empty, which I thought was strange since it was Chelsea’s return to the Champions League after a year out.
“We went to the dressing room for our final preparations and when we came back out the stadium was full, a real cauldron. Playing with fans like that lifts you.”
Zappacosta also described his move from Torino, which happened at the last minute on deadline day.
“It was all frantic, I’ve been living between the training ground and the hotel. Last Saturday we played Leicester, and in my free time I looked for a house.
“I arrived in England after the matches with the national team and I’ve really not had a spare minute.
“I have to improve my English and I’ll start this week. This experience at Chelsea is something to be done 360 degrees, so knowing the language is also important.
“I want to give and get the most out of this. It’s a crucial period for my career and I want to live it intesely.
“Goals like the one against Qarabag come along once in a lifetime, daily life is another story.”