Blues bol­ster mid­field with ris­ing French star Bakayoko

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

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

Scoreboard

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.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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.

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