Chelsea are close to capturing the signature of Tiemoue Bakayoko of AS Monaco for around £35 million, sources suggest. The French midfielder was a vital cog in the Ligue 1 side’s brilliant campaign, in which they most notably won the domestic league and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Bakayoko’s role in the Monaco system (a classic 4-4-2; remind you of another side that performed a relatively decent upset recently?) was to sit by Fabinho and provide apt cover for the defence behind him. Needless to say, he went above and beyond his duties.
The French midfielder had over 2 tackles and about 2 interceptions every game throughout the Ligue 1 season, though he also gave away just about 2 fouls a game as well. It’s a noticeable upgrade when compared against the man he’s reportedly replacing at Chelsea, Nemanja Matic.
The Serbian averaged 1.5 tackles and just 1.4 interceptions every game throughout this past season with the Blues. This is a downfall of a quite spectacular nature from his 2014/15 season, when he averaged 3.6 tackles and 2 interceptions every game. (5.8 tackles a game in the Champions League!)
Hell, it’s a considerable downgrade from the Serb’s 2015/16 season, too, when the Londoners finished in 10th place. Even in that season, Matic averaged 2.5 tackles and 2 interceptions every game.
Although some statistics are made to form a certain conclusion, it is not so in this case. In this scenario, the statistics support what we’ve been seeing through our naked eye, and that is an unceremonious decline of the once impassable Nemanja Matic.
The 28-year old may not again regain his capabilities of old. While it is true that the Serb has been fairly generous in terms of providing contributions offensively—with 7 assists from the season just past—Conte is right to seek a midfielder that can do well in both departments. Bakayoko is not the best in terms of vision, per se, but he does tend to dominate in the air, as seen in his goal against Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
He’s also young at just 22-years of age. This gives Conte ample time to shape his playing style however he feels would give his team the best advantage.
On the other hand, Matic’s mooted move to Manchester United should make Chelsea particularly happy. The midfielder is on the decline, and a reunion with former flame Mourinho might not be enough to rekindle his marauding form which powered Chelsea to the title in 2015.