Tiemoue Bakayoko Says Loan Return to Monaco from Chelsea Not 'A Step Back'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2019

Monaco's French midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko poses with his jersey after a press conference held for his presentation in La Turbie, near Monaco on September 3, 2019. (Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Tiemoue Bakayoko said he has not taken a "step back" by returning to Monaco from Chelsea this summer.

Bakayoko, who joined the Blues from the Ligue 1 club in 2017 for £40 million, went back to the Stade Louis II on a one-year loan before the transfer window shut.

He discussed the move at his unveiling:

Goal @goal

Was going back to Monaco a step in the right direction for Bakayoko? 🤔 https://t.co/K7l42drC8U

Per Goal's James Westwood, he said:

"There was a good opportunity to come back here in a very good project.

"Lots of people will perhaps say that I am taking a step back by coming to Monaco, but I see it differently.

"My two experiences abroad allowed me to play a lot, contrary to what a lot of people have said. My season in Milan brought me a lot in terms of new avenues of football and professionalism. I have taken a lot of positive things away from it."

The Frenchman arrived at Stamford Bridge having played a key role in Monaco beating Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 title in the 2016-17 campaign.

A combative presence in the centre of the pitch, he used his physicality to dominate games, and his defensive instincts offered a great deal of protection to Monaco's back line:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Tiemoué Bakayoko's 2016/17 Ligue 1 season by numbers: 87% pass accuracy 62 aerial duels won 57 tackles won 57 take-ons 56 interceptions 💪 https://t.co/xk2SOhULmM

He struggled to adapt to the Premier League, though, and spent last season on loan with AC Milan.

Although he needed a little time to adjust in Serie A, Bakayoko found his feet with the Rossoneri and began to display the kind of form Chelsea wanted from him at Stamford Bridge.

However, he reportedly jeopardised his chances of remaining at the San Siro on a permanent basis after turning up late to a training session.

The 25-year-old then reportedly appeared to tell then-manager Gennaro Gattuso to "f--k off" in an argument on the bench and had to deny that he refused to play in their 2-1 win over Bologna on May 6.

Bakayoko returned to Chelsea, but as Goal's Nizaar Kinsella observed, he was evidently lacking confidence in pre-season:

Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella

Bakayoko's performance has been a little sad to watch. He isn't even doing the basics right. It is hard to see a £40m midfielder in there. #CFC #REACHE

He'll hope a return to Monaco can help reignite his career, because he has shown he can be an outstanding asset when he's on form.

There may be nothing he can do to salvage a future at Chelsea, however, because if he does get back to his best, it's possible they will want to strike while the iron is hot and sell him.