Chelsea legend Michael Essien has backed Tiémoué Bakayoko to recover from his poor start to life in England and become an important player for Antonio Conte’s side.
Bakayoko joined Chelsea in a £40 million summer move from Monaco after a sensational last season which saw him contribute greatly to the Red and Whites title success but has struggled to find his feet in his first five months at the Stamford Bridge.
The France international has come in for strong criticism over his performances, with the latest from Chelsea all-time leading top scorer Frank Lampard after Chelsea’s 1-1 stalemate with Atletico Madrid in Champions League on Wednesday.
But Michael Essien, who had an incredible career at Chelsea, still thinks that Bakayoko will make the grade in west London and he has urged fans not to put too much pressure on him.
“It is his first season. He is still young and he has a lot in him to keep developing,” Essien said. “There’s no need to put pressure on him and he doesn’t need to put pressure on himself. He just needs to try to enjoy the situation and to try to adapt.
“Chelsea is an amazing place to play and the Premier League is not that easy to come to. Some people take time and others come in and get it straight away. He needs to adapt.
“However, I was ready when I signed for Chelsea. I was ready to come, it was physical in the league. I was prepared with my abilities and I was a bit older. I didn’t find it hard at all. [Jose] Mourinho gave me every confidence and it was quite easy to adapt.
“It was more physical back when I signed but for the players now it is a bit less. The referees are protecting the players more which is good. All my old team-mates are gone! It is the football life. Players come and go.
“Conte has brought in the players that he needs and that’s normal. It was nothing personal and it is a normal thing that happens in football. Managers come in and they need certain players, yes, all my old team-mates have gone but that’s normal to not stay there forever.
“You have to move on [as a player]. I don’t think it is hard for Conte’s side to compete with my side. I don’t like comparisons, what we’ve done has gone now and we have the new boys in now. We have to keep supporting them and they can win something for Chelsea.”
Essien signed for Chelsea from olympique lyon. He won the Champions League, two Premier League titles and four FA Cup.