Blues bolster midfield with rising French star Bakayoko
LONDON — Chelsea completed the signing of France international midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco, the Premier League champion announced on Saturday.
The 22-year-old joined Antonio Conte’s Blues on a five-year contract for a reported fee of around $53 million after helping the principality side win the Ligue 1 title last season.
“I am very happy to be here and to join this great team,” Bakayoko said in a statement on the Chelsea website.
“I have grown up watching Chelsea. Signing was the natural thing for me because it is a club I loved very much in my childhood.
“I am now looking forward to evolving under this fantastic coach and alongside so
many great teammates.”
Chelsea may have to do without its new recruit at the start of the season, though, as Bakayoko is expected to be out of action for at least six weeks after having keyhole surgery on his knee at the end of last term.
Bakayoko was one of the stars of Leonardo Jardim’s youthful Monaco outfit that surprisingly beat Paris SaintGermain to the French title in May, while also reaching the Champions League semifinals.
The completion of the deal is a boost for Chelsea manager Conte, after he missed out on former Everton striker Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United.
There had been speculation United might try and hijack the bid for Bakayoko just as it did with Lukaku on Monday, when it forked out $98 million to break the record for a deal between British clubs.
However, Bakayoko, whom Monaco will make a tidy profit on having signed him from Rennes for $7m, always made it clear that Chelsea was his preferred destination.
“Tiemoue was outstanding as Monaco emerged as one of Europe’s best sides last season and we are delighted to welcome him to Chelsea,” said the Blues’ technical director Michael Emenalo.
“Despite his young age he already has plenty of experience as a French title winner, and, having competed in the latter stages of the Champions League, we believe he will add considerable quality to our squad.”
Bakayoko made his international debut in a friendly defeat to Spain in March, and will team up with compatriot N’Golo Kante in the Chelsea midfield.
His arrival also paves the way for the possible departure from Stamford Bridge of Serb Nemanja Matic, who is reportedly wanted by Man- chester United.
However, Chelsea is not keen to sell him to Jose Mourinho’s United as relations between the clubs have cooled considerably since the Lukaku affair.
Bakayoko is Chelsea’s third major signing of the close season so far, following the arrivals of goalkeeper Willy Caballero from Manchester City and German centerback Antonio Rudiger from Roma.
The six-time English champion heads to Asia later this month — facing Arsenal in Beijing on July 22 — for a preseason tour, before taking on Arsenal in the Community Shield on Aug 6, and kicking off its Premier League title defense against Burnley six days later.
Tiemoue Bakayoko celebrates scoring for Monaco during the UEFA Champions League last-16, second-leg victory over Manchester City at Stade Louis II in March. The France midfielder has joined Chelsea for $53 million.