Tiemoue Bakayoko

Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Bakayoko to stay at Chelsea this season, says agent

Leave a comment

Tiemoue Bakayoko will be with the Blues this season.

His brother and agent tells L’Equipe that Bakayoko has “decided to stay” with Chelsea for the season, happy with participation in the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Following a rough first season with Chelsea, which came after a big money buy from AS Monaco, Bakayoko moved to Serie A side AC Milan on loan.

Milan paid a $6 million loan fee to bring Bakayoko to Serie A last season, and the 24-year-old Frenchman over-delivered for I Rossoneri.

Bakayoko was a tackling, intercepting machine for Milan, and rang up 2800 minutes between Serie A and the Europa League. And we’re sure he’s a better player having learned under Gennaro Gattuso for a season.

Can he find a fit under Chelsea’s new boss or, we guess, Maurizio Sarri? Probably, though the new boss may also want to let N'Golo Kante back to his old destructive role in the middle of the park (Sarri liked to use him a bit more advanced).

Italian league, Lazio condemn fans’ racist chanting in cup semi

Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) The Italian league’s governing body has vowed to do “everything in our power” to wipe out racism in soccer after another incident.

Lazio’s Italian Cup semifinal victory at AC Milan was overshadowed by continued racist abuse directed at Milan players Tiemoue Bakayoko and Franck Kessie — who are black — before and during the match on Wednesday. Inflatable bananas were also visible in the away section.

The Lega Serie A said in a statement on Thursday it “firmly condemns the racist episodes which have happened these past few days. The sport should bring out respect, inclusion and being together in harmony: Values that are at the base of the social initiatives that have always been promoted by the Lega Serie A.

“It is not acceptable that we have to hear verbal, intolerant abuse in our stadiums and, as we have done before … we will do everything in our power to oppose similar incidents. We also hope for the maximum collaboration from the police to help identify and punish those responsible who with their actions tarnish the image of our world.”

The latest incident came less than a month after Juventus teenager Moise Kean was racially abused at Cagliari — and partially blamed by an own teammate.

Lazio also condemned what happened on Wednesday.

“Lazio clearly distances itself from behavior and displays that do not in any way correspond to the values of sport that this club has promoted and supported for 119 years,” the club said. “And it rejects and contests the simplistic tendency of some parts of the media to consider the entire Lazio fanbase responsible for the actions of a few isolated elements, for motivation that has nothing to do with passion for sport.

“The club has always fought for the respect of the law and for decency in behavior.”

There were two announcements over the speaker system at San Siro warning the fans to stop or the match would be suspended.

Lazio won 1-0 to progress to the final against Atalanta or Fiorentina. The first leg ended 0-0.

Earlier in the day, around 50 Lazio fans unfurled a banner reading “honor to Benito Mussolini” near Piazzale Loreto, where the fascist dictator was killed at the end of World War II.

Video shows Lazio fans’ racist chants aimed at Chelsea loanee Bakayoko

Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) A video has emerged of Lazio fans directing a racist chant at AC Milan midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.

The video posted on the Gazzetta dello Sport website shows fans singing, “This banana is for Bakayoko,” during Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Udinese at the Stadio Olimpico.

[ MORE: Pochettino “not optimistic” on Kane ]

It was an apparent response to Bakayoko and Milan teammate Franck Kessie waving the shirt of Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi in front of their supporters like a trophy after a 1-0 win on Saturday.

Bakayoko, who is black, is on loan from Chelsea.

Lazio fans have a long history of racist and anti-Semitic episodes.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Bakayoko finding delayed success on loan at AC Milan

Getty Images
Leave a comment

On-loan Chelsea midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko had really been struggling at AC Milan this season, so much so that there was talk of his departure from both Chelsea and Milan on a permanent basis in January, ending his chance of earning a place with the Blues before it really ever began.

Then, things began to slowly turn around. It began after Bakayoko sat a game for a yellow card suspension in late December. He returned to play in a 0-0 draw against Frosinone, and while Milan failed to score, Bakayoko was one of the most instrumental players on the pitch, brought on by a willingness to take players on himself rather than try to find every cutting edge pass. In the 0-0 draw with Bologna just before his suspension, he attempted one take-on; in the Frosinone match after his return, he attempted five take-ons and was successful in them all.

This trend continued, and it in turn opened up passing lanes. Since returning from his yellow card suspension, Bakayoko has attempted 26 take-ons, completing 18 of them, playing all 90 minutes in each of the six games. This has opened the eyes of Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso.

“Bakayoko is an unusual deep-lying playmaker,” Gattuso said after Milan topped Cagliari on Sunday.  “He used to choose the wrong passes, but now he takes men on, can power past people and create chances.”

Milan has been forced to stick with Bakayoko in midfield due to the long-term calf injury to Lucas Biglia, forcing him out since October. That has benefitted Bakayoko, who has been given time to work out his struggles. Unfortunately, he’s rounding into form just as Biglia makes his return. He was an unused substitute in the Cagliari match, the first time he has been part of the matchday squad since his injury.

“If it’s a problem, we’ll resolve it. Biglia has been out for three months and needs time to find his form,” Gattuso said. “We’ll see if we need to use him in a wider midfield role, if there is the requirement.”

The inclusion of Biglia doesn’t necessarily mean Bakayoko’s minutes will fall, but it may force him into a different role. As Gattuso says, he would likely move from his deep-lying central role to the outside of the midfield three, meaning 21-year-old January signing Lucas Paqueta – who scored his debut league goal on Sunday against Cagliari – could be the one to make way.

Either way, the improvement of the midfield at the San Siro is a significant boost for the club as Milan fights for Champions League qualification. The club currently sits fourth after the Cagliari win on Sunday, but just barely – their 38 points are just one above the trio of Roma, Atalanta, and Lazio.

Bakayoko’s recent form in his role at Milan will also give Chelsea fans hope that he can eventually make his way back to Stamford Bridge and challenge Jorginho or N'Golo Kante for a role in the starting lineup. Jorginho especially struggled mightily in his defensive midfield role against Manchester City on Sunday, and fans have started to sour on Maurizio Sarri‘s Jorginho experiment that has forced Kante into a different role from the one he excelled at for so long.

Even if he never finds his way back to Stamford Bridge, Bakayoko’s improvement could be beneficial to Chelsea in another way – Milan now reportedly wants to take Bakayoko on permanently, which could net Chelsea a significant fee and a player in return. According to tabloid reports in England, Chelsea is hoping Milan’s interest in Bakayoko permanently could net them Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who has played alongside Bakayoko for much of the season.

Chelsea beats Liverpool, keeping Top Four hopes alive

Leave a comment
  • Chelsea creeping on Top Four
  • Giroud scores winner
  • Nothing settled til Championship Sunday

Olivier Giroud‘s first half goal was enough for Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea to top Liverpool 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Chelsea moves to within three points of third-place Liverpool and sits two points behind Spurs. Both London sides have two matches to play while the Reds have one.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

James Milner was fortunate to avoid discipline after a scissor challenge on Eden Hazard hobbled the Belgian in the 10th minute.

Chelsea was better money for an opening goal, and Marcos Alonso stung a shot that Loris Karius caught in the 17th.

Thibaut Courtois made a fine parry on a 30th minute Sadio Mane rip, then collected a weaker second effort from the Senegalese striker.

Giroud put Chelsea ahead in the 32nd minute, and ran into the stands to give David Luiz a hug following the marker. Tiemoue Bakayoko spotted Victor Moses on the right flank, and his cross was turned home by the meaty French forehead (Do I owe Arlo White money now?).

Fabregas’ cross was absent receiver in the 36th minute, as a back post run would’ve had Chelsea ahead by two.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Hazard worked through a hassle to set-up an early second half chance, but Moses’ cross zipped past a herd of Blues attackers.

Chelsea had a second goal ruled offside when Antonio Rudiger was clearly off to head home Giroud’s header off a corner.

Chelsea stayed stout over the final 15 minutes, and Dominic Solanke nodded a late chance wide of the goal.