AC Milan midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko has defended himself after being accused of refusing to come on as a substitute against Bologna on Monday.
Bakayoko, who is on a season-long loan at the San Siro from Chelsea, appeared to tell Gennaro Gattuso to “f*** off” after the Milan manager instructed him to sit back down on the bench following a short warm-up.
What did Bakayoko and Gattuso row about? Five key things to know…
- Midway through the first half of Milan’s meeting with Bologna, Lucas Biglia picked up an injury and Bakayoko was asked to warm up.
- The midfielder’s warm-up was half-hearted and Gattuso told him to sit back on the bench, choosing Jose Mauri to replace Biglia instead.
- Gattuso appeared to reprimand Bakayoko for failing to warm up in an appropriate manner and words were exchanged.
- Bakayoko is alleged to have told Gattuso to “f*** off”, to which the Milan boss reacted with more displeased words.
- The 24-year-old had started in each of Milan’s last seven league matches prior to the Bologna game.
Bakayoko has impressed for Milan this term but the former Monaco midfielder has already faced controversy following a questionable celebration against Lazio last month.
After Monday’s spat with Gattuso, Bakayoko released a full statement on Instagram in which he suggested Gattuso was at fault.
“I don’t agree with being considered as a player who refuses to enter the field when his coach asks him to and who doesn’t respect his club and teammates,” Bakayoko wrote, as translated by Football Italia.
“I was asked to get ready in case there was a change, so I prepared myself immediately and went to warm up for a maximum of 2-3 minutes, then I was asked to sit back on the bench.
“I think it was between 23 and 26 minutes, and it was when I was sitting on the bench that the coach spoke to me unexpectedly and I did nothing but repeat his words. Nothing more.
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“Things are clear: I never refused to enter the field. It seems to me that the images speak for themselves.
“I had only one wish, to enter the field and help my teammates like I always have and will do until the end of the season. Forza Milan.”
Gattuso hints at private punishment for Bakayoko
Bakayoko has impressed for Milan during his loan spell, making 39 appearances across all competitions for the Italian giants this term.
Milan have the option to make the move permanent, but Gattuso’s comments after Monday’s incident suggest there is friction between player and manager.
“Everyone can insult me,” Gattuso said. “But then I will fix the situation within the four walls of locker room, where I can use my language that I can’t use on TV.”
With Chelsea under a transfer ban, Maurizio Sarri may consider using Bakayoko in his first-team squad next season if the Frenchman returns to Stamford Bridge.