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  • By Alessandro Schiavone

After rejecting Brentford last summer this starlet is now on the verge of silverware

By Alessandro Schiavone in Eindhoven

It was cue bedlam in Eindhoven at the final whistle after Johan Bakayoko's PSV's 5-1 demolition of AZ Alkmaar has seen them close in on their first Eredivisie title since 2018.


And Belgian Bakayoko, who turned down Brentford and the Premier League despite a club-record offer last summer, played a major role in his side's resounding victory by providing a goal and an assist.

He now has nine each for the league season for a total contribution of 18.


Hence it's tempting to wonder where Thomas Frank's Bees would be had he accepted their advances. They'd almost certainly find themselves in a much healthier position than 15th, way higher up than only four points above the drop zone.


With Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo missing big chunks of the campaign and Neal Maupay taking his time to revive his Goodison-shot confidence, a dazzling player of Bakayoko's skillset would have been manna from heaven in Frank's bid to open up deep defences. On his day Eredivisie left-backs know that there's only so much they can do to defend against him. And keeping him quiet is already half the battle.


Detractors will now point to the fact that he could have had the match ball after the first period.


His entry into the box and confident finish from Malik Tillman's cutback was sandwiched by two glaring misses. And unless he joins Man City, Arsenal or Liverpool he won't get as many opportunities to stamp his name on the game as in the first 45 minutes at the Philips Stadium on Saturday.


But he delivered the perfect riposte when he made up for them with a pinpoint delivery leading to Luuk De Jong's tap-in goal and a superb lay-off for Joey Veerman's long-ranger.


It's there for all to see that just like countryman Jeremy Doku, he certainly needs to work on his finishing. But other than that he has it all.


The way he bombs forward with the ball glued to his feet, the kamikaze intensity he puts in his game, his deadly drop of shoulders and progressive and individualistic style of play will have set many a tongue wagging in England.


And having rejected Brentford may now turn out to be the right call long-term. Because with only five months of first-team football under his belt, having only replaced Chelsea-bound Noni Madueke in January 2023, he may have jumped the gun.


Yet with performances like Saturday's and an Eredivisie medal on its way to cap it all off after an excellent season, he surely has done his top-club ambitions no harm.


That said, with Bakayoko leading the way, the 'Bus stop in Hounslow' would certainly be a Premier League bus stop even after August. The player promises to be so much more than a momentary flash in the pan and can win games on his own, something the Bees have lacked this term with key men out for large spells.


Yet without him, the outcome is on a knife edge and a return to the darker Griffin Park days is a real possibility.


The feeling right now is that it will all go down to the wire. And should the Bees stay up as many are predicting, they may have to face up to the prospect of welcoming Bakayoko to the Gtech Community Stadium as a visitor next term.


But that's a problem for the morning.






















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