Chelsea stormed to a 3-1 win over Premier League newcomers Huddersfield Town on Tuesday and Blues manager Antonio Conte singled out Tiemoue Bakayoko for praise after the tie.
“Bakayoko played a really good game. I am very happy for him. We are talking about a player who is 23 years old. He is adapting himself to our idea of football,” Conte stressed at the post-match press conference.
Signed for a fee of £40 million from Ligue 1 side AS Monaco in the summer, Bakayoko had been struggling to fill the void left by Nemanja Matic, who signed for Premier League rivals Manchester United in the same window .
“Tonight I saw the best performance from Baka. I started to see what I ask, what I want: to find the right pass between the lines, to change sides, and to be solid and focused for the whole game.”
Bakayoko, who turned 23 in August, has scored twice in the Premier League and once in the UEFA Champions League but the Frenchman came under a barrage of criticism not for his lack of goals, but his clumsy performances as his first-touch often let him down at crucial junctures.
“I am very pleased for him, and this type of performance will improve his confidence. I repeat: I am not worried about Baka. He is a young player, and now he is starting to understand he is in a club like Chelsea, a great club. I am very happy because he showed me he has the right desire and will to improve himself and try to be better.”
Bakayoko has chipped in with three assists in all competitions and the Blues faithful are hoping that his display against Huddersfield was not a one-off and he will continue to perform at a similar level in the future.
“If I didn’t trust him, he doesn’t start tonight in an important game after a defeat and a lot of problems. To start with him shows I trust him,” Conte added.