Recent reports by Calcio Napoli 24 have claimed that Chelsea will demand €18m (£15.5m) for rumoured West Ham United target Tiemoue Bakayoko this summer, but David Sullivan must prevent David Moyes from reviving any hopes of a deal.
The Irons were heavily linked with interest in the French midfielder last summer before he sealed a last-ditch season-long loan with SSC Napoli, with Transfer20 claiming in June that the London Stadium natives were favourites after pushing hardest for a move.
West Ham ultimately did not strengthen the engine room beyond the permanent arrival of Tomas Soucek, and could again strive to add depth behind the Czech Republic star and Declan Rice this year despite Mark Noble’s recent one-year contract extension.
Bakayoko may emerge as an option for the Hammers once again at the end of the season, as Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis is noted to be opposed to paying Chelsea’s £15.5m asking price to purchase the 26-year-old.
The Serie A side ‘will never accept’ paying the Blues a fee in that region and could return to the negotiating table at some stage, as Bakayoko has started 17 of his 23 league games under Gennaro Gattuso this term and only failed to feature twice in 25 available fixtures.
Bakayoko’s preference would be a return to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium for the 2021/22 campaign if the option presents itself, but is not opposed to taking on a new adventure in hopes of finding a regular role.
He has not featured for Chelsea in a competitive game since his maiden year at Stamford Bridge in 2017/18, having been sent on loan to AC Milan and a temporary return to AS Monaco before joining Napoli in October.
Chelsea paid Monaco £40m to sign Bakayoko in 2017 under Antonio Conte against rival interest from Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, and handed him a £110,000-per-week contract that is due to expire next year.
West Ham could strive to capitalise on Bakayoko entering the final 12-months of his deal in June to add depth to Moyes’ engine room, but Sullivan must block any efforts to revive the east London outfit’s previous interest.
Bakayoko flopped heavily in the Premier League when signed for more than the £30m that Chelsea paid Leicester for their title-winning hero N’Golo Kante, and has now been passed on by four managers with Thomas Tuchel seemingly opposed to offering a second chance.
It took Maurizio Sarri less than a month of seeing Bakayoko in training before he sanctioned a loan with AC Milan, and it was no wonder that the Italian’s successor Frank Lampard chose against bringing the one-time international back.
Before taking the step into management at Derby County, Lampard was highly critical of Bakayoko after seeing the Frenchman struggle in big games for his former side.
“He sleeps,” Lampard said, via quotes by the Independent, after Bakayoko lost sight of Saul Niguez as the Atletico Madrid midfielder scored in a 1-1 Champions League Group Stage draw with Chelsea in December 2017. “His concentration goes and at this level, if you sleep for a second, and it’s an easy goal for Atletico.
“I don’t know with Bakayoko. I think it’s well documented that he hasn’t settled quickly at Chelsea and English football in the Premier League as well, and he has to come to grips with that.”
Days earlier, Rio Ferdinand had also slammed Bakayoko after offering nothing to protect Chelsea’s backline in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool and instead caused problems for the Blues.
“If I was Gary Cahill out there, I would be screaming at Bakayoko,” Ferdinand said, via quotes by the Daily Star. “I think, defensively, he’s been an absolute disgrace today. He’s doing nothing, he’s letting people run off him [and] he’s leaving Gary Cahill isolated.”
With four Chelsea managers now seemingly passing on offering Bakayoko a chance to show himself in a better light than his initial efforts, it is clear that he has not proven he can improve and Sullivan must block West Ham from reviving their interest this summer.
AND in other news, a £70k-p/w dud with “wonderful feet” intends to quit West Ham this summer…