AC Milan director Paolo Maldini has suggested two key factors mean Tiemoue Bakayoko’s move from Chelsea remains in the balance this summer.
As noted by Goal.com, the 24-year-old joined the Rossoneri last summer on an initial loan deal with a €35m option to buy included.
After a stuttering start to life in Italy, Bakayoko has established himself as a fundamental figure in coach Gennaro Gattuso’s line-up, and it seems a no-brainer for the Italian giants to exercise that option to buy him outright at the end of the season.
The Frenchman has made 35 appearances this season, and although he only has one goal and one assist to his name, his influence in the defensive phase coupled with his powerful attacking runs and physicality in the heart of the Milan midfield have made him a key figure for the team.
However, as noted by Maldini in his comments below, a permanent move to Milan could ultimately hinge on the squad’s ability to secure Champions League qualification for next season.
“[Bakayoko] showed great character,” he told Mediaset, as quoted by Goal.com. “He didn’t start very well and had to adapt to a different situation than he was used to.
“We are super happy with him and we will try to keep him.
“It will depend on Financial Fair Play and the final position in the league. [Qualifying for] the Champions League will matter in the market but also for the mood of the squad.”
Milan currently sit in fourth place in Serie A with just seven games to go, but having picked up just one point in their last four league outings, Saturday’s crunch showdown with Lazio could be decisive in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
The ability to attract top players coupled with the financial boost that featuring in the competition brings, it sounds as though it will be essential for the club to be back at Europe’s top table in order to make their desired moves and to balance the books for FFP purposes.
In turn, a knock-on effect of that could be that Chelsea may not be entirely assured of their €35m to sell Bakayoko this summer until Milan have confirmed their spot in the Champions League.