CHELSEA are reportedly on the verge of completing a £35m move for Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.
The 22-year-old French international impressed with the Ligue 1 champions last season and his arrival at Stamford Bridge could bring about Nemanja Matic’s exit.
Chelsea are on the verge of signing Tiemoue Bakayoko for £35million
The arrival of Tiemoue Bakayoko could mean Nemanja Matic’s second stint at Stamford Bridge is over
Our friend at Football Whispers have delved into the stats to see whether Bakayoko would represent an upgrade on two-time Premier League winner Matic.
Last season, Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco side produced some of the most thrilling attacking football in Europe on their way to the Champions League semi-final and a first Ligue 1 title since 2000.
But Monegasque side’s offensive style was built on the solid foundations that Bakayoko and Manchester United target Fabinho provided as the central midfield duo in Jardim’s 4-4-2 setup.
The combative and athletic pair offered protection to the backline and were tenacious and fastidious in their stifling duties, allowing the gifted attackers to shine further up the pitch.
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea strolled to the Premier League title thanks to their dynamic and adaptable 3-4-3 system.
Signing Tiemoue Bakayoko and letting Nemanja Matic leave will be seen as smart business by Antonio Conte
Jose Mourinho knows Nemanja Matic well from his time at Chelsea
Nemanja Matic was integral alongside N’Golo Kante in Chelsea’s title winning side
N’Golo Kante was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year for his role as the midfield destroyer, breaking up play and recycling possession, ensuring the likes of Eden Hazard, Pedro and Diego Costa has a platform to perform on.
However, for the majority of the season Matic stood alongside Kante in the centre of the Chelsea midfield, with his performances often going unheralded. But with 35 appearances the Serbian proved himself to be a crucial player in a Premier League title triumph for the second time in three years.
Conte seems intent on replacing Matic and it would be fair to say that last season the 28-year-old was not quite the dominant force he had been under Jose Mourinho two years ago, but he hardly let the side down.
Tiemoue Bakayoko was also crowned league champion for Monaco last season
Matic proved responsible in possession, picking out a colleague with 87.7 per cent of his passes, a slightly better average than Bakayoko’s 87.3 per cent in Ligue 1.
However, Bakayoko, who is far more athletic than Matic at this stage of his career, showed how capable he is of covering ground and breaking up play with his average of 2.8 tackles and 2.3 interceptions per 90 minutes, compared to the Chelsea man’s 1.7 tackles and 1.7 interceptions.
Monaco star Tiemoue Bakayoko averages more tackles than Nemanja Matic
The Frenchman is also a better technician than he is credited with being: more than a simple water carrier, he is capable of breaking the lines of the opposition with incisive forward passes. However, with Monaco last term Bakayoko tended to see less of the ball than Matic, making 55.5 passes per 90 to the ex-Benfica player’s 62.2.
Matic, who has been linked with Manchester United with Mourinho keen to reunite with the midfielder at Old Trafford, completed more key passes per 90 in 2016/17 league action (0.9 to 0.6) which led to him registering seven assists to the former Rennes man’s one.
Bakayoko outscored the man he is being earmarked to replace by two league goals to one last term and, despite standing a full 10cm shorter than Matic, won more aerial duels on average, with 2.6 per 90 minutes compared to 1.3.
From a technical point of view, there is little to choose between the two men. Matic edges things in terms of creativity but that could simply be a consequence of Kante’s work freeing him up to influence proceedings further forward.
Physically, athletically and tactically, Bakayoko appears to have the upper hand. Bringing him in could add more steel to the already combative and imposing Chelsea midfield.