‘We look out for him’

‘We look out for him’
Johan Bakayoko celebrates his hit

NOS Soccer

  • Aaron Golub

    Follows PSV on behalf of NOS Sport

  • Aaron Golub

    Follows PSV on behalf of NOS Sport

From the PSV youth, 19-year-old Johan Bakayoko exceeded all expectations last season in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie with 17 goals and 12 assists. He made his official debut in the first team that same year.

Meanwhile, following the sale of Cody Gakpo, Noni Madueke and injuries to rivals Sávio, Anwar El Ghazi and Thorgan Hazard, young Bakayoko is being counted on.

The Ivorian Belgian is currently filling that vacant spot beyond expectations. He kicked off as Johan Cruijff Talent of the Month for his performance in the premier league in February. A longer stay in Eindhoven was also recently confirmed, in the form of an open and improved contract through 2026.

“He has a lot of international potential and we would like to develop him further,” general manager Marcel Brands revealed after the signing.

Destination: Eindhoven

Bakayoko went through just about all national youth selections and, according to some, the outfielder is even a candidate for the Belgian “generation of 2026. So he has his career pretty much on track, but has encountered some bumps in the road. “With the general public in Belgium, he is even still unknown,” said Belgian sports journalist and presenter Bart Raes.

Via Oud-Heverlee Leuven, he ended up at Club Brugge at age 12. There he was sent away after a year. Adaptation problems. In the youth of KV Mechelen he made more of an impression, upon which Anderlecht immediately snatched him in 2018. A year later, PSV plucked away the then 16-year-old talent, who already wanted to play more by then.

“In that he does have a point. He chose PSV and it’s paying off now. He has a good upside, a clear head. He still has to wait for his spot in the Belgian national selection, but he is expected to be called up for the European Under-21 Championship,” Raes added about the tournament, which will take place next summer in Georgia and Romania.

Ironclad statistics

Bakayoko is physically strong for his age, quick, can outplay a man and has a good left leg. In many ways, he is reminiscent of predecessor Madueke. Cruising down the right flank, with his sharp inward cross, but one-on-one not yet as consistent as the departed Chelsea acquisition. He himself does not compare himself to any specific player. “I think I’m a mix of different profiles,” he said.

In terms of dribbles, crosses and shot accuracy, Bakayoko is among the most effective 10 players in the premier league this season. Half of his dribbles succeeded (25 out of 49) and in 825 playing minutes he accounted for 4 goals and 3 assists.

Although so far he has ‘only’ delivered nine crosses that arrived, in the topper against FC Twente he gave two important assists from a cross. A task that Gakpo mostly took on in the first half of the season, but after his departure is starting to fall more and more into Bakayoko’s hands.

‘PSG news not picked up’

“I want to become champion here,” were the words of the flighty top talent, after PSV also threatened to lose him in the winter. Paris Saint-Germain had a total of some 15 million euros to spare for the very young striker, but the Eindhoven side had no appetite for that. The deal was even “unmentionable,” according to Ruud van Nistelrooij.

“It is only his first season at the highest level, but what he is already showing is very clever. Then I look at the number of minutes he has made and the efficiency he is already showing,” the head coach said.

Watch the summary of PSV – FC Twente

Although the giant from Paris was quick to catch on, there is less eye in Belgium for the Overijsen native. “The expectations are not so high yet. Even the news that PSG wanted him hasn’t really been picked up here,” Raes said.

What he needs to do to get to the real top? “Become even more consistent and perform every week at PSV. He is not so well known yet, but we in Belgium are very much looking forward to his development.”

If Bakayoko continues to develop at this rate, sooner or later our southern neighbors will automatically become familiar with “their” number 27: Johan Bakayoko.

Kayleigh Williams