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Chelsea's Tiemoue Bakayoko Talks Up Making AC Milan Loan a Permanent Move

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2019

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - JANUARY 13:  Tiémoué Bakayoko of AC Milan speaks with the media before the Italian Supercup between Juventus FC and AC Milan on January 13, 2019 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images for Lega Serie A)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Tiemoue Bakayoko has admitted he's open to turning his loan spell with AC Milan into a permanent move away from Chelsea, after describing the Serie A side as a "legendary club." 

The Blues midfielder spoke to French publication Nice Matin (h/t Football.London's Oliver Harbord) about how well he's taken to life at the San Siro:

"There wasn't a turning point. I just wanted to show that I was good enough for a big club. Milan are on a different planet. I was greeted by Maldini and Leonardo on my first day and you immediately realise who you're dealing with.

"Then you have the atmosphere at San Siro, which is extraordinary. Milan are a legendary club. Who wouldn't like to stay at a club like Milan for a long time? Having said that, I'm still under contract with Chelsea for the next three years. I don't have all the cards."

Bakayoko hasn't hidden his wish to remain a Milan player beyond this season.
Bakayoko hasn't hidden his wish to remain a Milan player beyond this season.Manuel Gomez/Associated Press

This isn't the first time Bakayoko has talked up extending his stay in Milan recently. He told Corriere dello Sport (h/t Rich Jones of the Daily Mirror) staying with the club is "my dream."

Bakayoko sounds more enamoured with his stint in the Italian top flight than he was with his brief and ill-fated spell in west London. The powerhouse France international moved to Stamford Bridge from AS Monaco in 2017 for a fee of £40 million.

He had helped Monaco finish the 2016/17 campaign as winners of Ligue 1. His combination of physicality, drive and technique helped the 24-year-old seem like the complete midfielder.

Unfortunately for Chelsea, Bakayoko's instinct for goal, eye for a pass and energy deserted him once he arrived in the Premier League. He struggled for playing time and couldn't make an impact in the final third or as a screen for the Chelsea defence after holding player Nemanja Matic was sold to Manchester United the same summer Bakayoko arrived.

Bakayoko struggled to replace Matic at Chelsea, even though his debut season ended with silverware.
Bakayoko struggled to replace Matic at Chelsea, even though his debut season ended with silverware.Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Even though he won the FA Cup, Bakayoko's confidence appeared shattered and making his exit after just one season felt inevitable and welcome rather than a disappointing surprise for both club and player.

Joining the Rossoneri has prompted an upturn in Bakayoko's belief in himself. He recently compared himself to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira, who was briefly on Milan's books before decorated spells with the Gunners, Juventus, Inter Milan and France.

Bakayoko said he's "most like" Vieira because of his height, strength and skill, during an interview with Milan TV (h/t Football Italia). It's a lofty comparison, especially from a player who is yet to register an assist or score a goal this season.

The lack of production might have Chelsea fans hoping Bakayoko gets his wish to become a Milan player full time. After all, the Blues are already well-stocked in the middle of the park thanks to deep-lying pass-masters Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic.

Bakayoko has compared himself to Vieira, who played for both Milan rivals.
Bakayoko has compared himself to Vieira, who played for both Milan rivals.GIUSEPPE CACACE/Getty Images

N'Golo Kante remains a capable destroyer, while Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Danny Drinkwater provide depth. There doesn't appear to be room for Bakayoko in the plans of Maurizio Sarri, the former Napoli manager who prizes comfort in possession above all other qualities in his midfielders.

Chelsea would likely welcome a bid from Milan for Bakayoko. However, he's going to need to turn being content in Italy into better performances to encourage the Rossoneri to make his dream of a permanent transfer happen.

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