Bakayoko finally earns his first good reviews at AC Milan

Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and Tiémoué Bakayoko isn’t broken, probably. He just needs to be wound up a bit? Whatever motivation he needed, he’s now put together back-to-back solid-to-good performances at AC Milan in his season-long(?) loan from Chelsea.

Following a barrage of criticism for performances marred by technical and tactical errors, Bakayoko has finally found himself in the good graces of not only his manager but the Italian press as AC Milan have risen to fourth in the Serie A table with back-to-back-to-back wins, including a last-gasp 1-0 win over Udinese over the weekend and a last-gasp 2-1 triumph over Genoa the weekend before. (Incidentally, both late-late winners were scored by possible Chelsea transfer target, center back Alessio Romagnoli.)

As per Calciomercato, here is how the papers rated Bakayoko’s performance in Udine:

Gazzetta dello Sport: “The mistake against Genoa didn’t have any impact. He placed himself in front of the defence and did easy things. Which, most of times, are the best one to do” — 6

Corriere dello Sport: “He is not a regista, he needs dynamism to show his qualities, that’s why he played a very good second half” — 6.5

Tuttosport : “He is definitely improving. Playing on a regular basis is the key to cope with Italian football and learn more about his team-mates. The path for becoming an excellent signing, however, is still very long” — 6

AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso made no qualms about his displeasure with Bakayoko previously, so he was quite pleased to see the 24-year-old threatening to come good at last.

“Bakayoko had a great game [against Genoa]. We developed ball possession well, but then we got afraid and could no longer build well from the back.”

-Gennaro Gattuso; source: Football Italia

That’s not to say that his performances have been perfect — he was let off the hoook for a couple big mistakes against Genoa — but they are certainly better than what have become the norm since he made his big move from Monaco to Chelsea 18 months ago.

Gattuso was even more effusive in his praise after this weekend, as Bakayoko stepped up in the injury-enforced absences of Lucas Biglia, Hakan Calhanoglu and Giacomo Bonaventura.

“Apart from his technical error against Genoa, Bakayoko has been very good tactically.”

“He needs confidence and to hear fewer whistles when we play at home, because he’s proving that when he plays calmly, combining physicality with technique, he can relieve the pressure on us.”

“He needs to improve on the ball, but in terms of running and physicality he’s giving us a lot.”

-Gennaro Gattuso; source: Football Italia

Could Bakayoko finally have turned the proverbial corner? Is the broken clock actually getting fixed rather than just sputtering back into life for another turn or two? We’ve seen him be good in glimpses before, so he needs to keep these good performances going before any such notions — or any notions of triggering his €35m buy-option — could truly be entertained. But it’s a good start.

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