Reports in Italy claim manager Thomas Tuchel now wants to keep midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko at Chelsea after most things pointed towards a summer exit.
Bakayoko, 26, has been on the Stamford Bridge books since 2018. But, after failing to impress during his first season, he has not kicked a ball for the Blues for three years. Capped once by France, he has spent time on loan with Milan, Monaco and, last season, Napoli.
And it was hoped that Napoli would pursue a permanent deal for the tough-tackling schemer at the end of his temporary stint. But Gennaro Gattuso’s exit from the Naples club seemed to close that particular door for the Parisian.
Milan then emerged as possible suitors. A report earlier this week claimed they were seeking a loan deal with an option to buy.
And it seemed as though all parties were keen on the idea. The midfield enforcer was said to be up for a return to the San Siro, where he impressed during 2018-2019.
He made 26 starts among 31 Serie A appearances for the Rossoneri. But TuttoMercatoWeb are reporting that the Chelsea boss has blocked his move to Milan.
And the German tactician wants to hand him another chance to show what he can do in west London. That represents a change of heart for the club who seemed to have given up on the Ligue 1 winner.
Bakayoko to net pre-season chance
Chelsea enjoyed an amazing revival under Tuchel last term. Having been down among the also-rans with Frank Lampard in charge the ex-Paris Saint-Germain coach guided them to Champions League glory.
And they also ended up in the top four, pipping Leicester City by one point. There is no question that his arrival was a catalyst for the turnaround and so fans will need to trust his judgement.
That might be tough when it comes to Bakayoko as he was heavily criticised by fans and pundits in 2017-2018. He made 24 starts among 29 outings but did not endear himself to the Blues faithful.
There is still time to put that right as he has one year left on his current deal. Club officials might look to extend his contract in order to protect their asset and drive up his price.
But the report adds that Tuchel wants the defensive midfielder fully involved in pre-season. He will be given an opportunity to impress and possibly land a regular first-team berth.