Premier League leaders Chelsea took another big step towards the title following a 2-1 victory at Stoke City on Saturday.
Antonio Conte’s men had the chance to open up a 13-point gap at the top, what with Tottenham playing on Sunday, and they did just that thanks to Gary Cahill’s strike three minutes from time at the bet365 Stadium.
The Blues took an early lead through Willian but the hosts hit back when Jon Walters slotted home from the penalty spot, although Cahill had the final say by reacting quickest from a Cesc Fabregas corner to fire past Lee Grant.
Spurs did get past Southampton on Sunday so the gap at the top remains ten points, and with just ten games of the season remaining, it’s looking increasingly likely that Conte’s Chelsea will be lifting the Premier League trophy come May.
With the Blues into the semi-finals of the FA Cup as well, it could be quite a season for the West London club, and despite there still being much to play for this term, speculation has already begun about who Chelsea may look to sign in the summer.
And one man they’ve been linked to in recent days is Monaco midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, who of course helped the Ligue 1 side beat Manchester City in the Champions League last week.
Conte’s Chelsea are reportedly leading the chase for the 22-year-old, and what a fantastic addition he would be to the Italian’s squad at Stamford Bridge.
The Frenchman has been called up to the France senior squad this week for the first time in his career, which is indicative of the sensational season he is having at Monaco, but also the high regard many hold Bakayoko in, as France have a remarkably strong squad, certainly in the midfield areas.
And there’s no doubt that the 22-year-old would add further strength to an already talented Chelsea midfield.
N’Golo Kante has continued where he left off at Leicester for the Blues this season, and alongside Nemanja Matic, the two have formed arguably the strongest central midfield partnership in the division.
However, Conte has occasionally played Cesc Fabregas alongside Kante to suggest that he’s willing to change things if necessary, and with the Blues almost certainly playing Champions League football next season, having greater options can only be beneficial to the Italian.
Also, Fabregas’ future at Chelsea has been subject to speculation for most of the campaign, so there’s still a chance that the Spaniard may leave this summer, so having someone as highly-rated as Bakayoko in the squad will help minimise the effect of that potential departure.
The youngster is strong and combative, remarkably good in the air, as proved with his fine header against City last week, but is also solid with the ball at his feet and retains it well under pressure.
And when you see how well he has performed in Europe this term, Bakayoko is a youngster maturing well for his age, and perfect for both the present and indeed the future.
The Monaco man produced a sparkling display to help Leonardo Jardim’s side come from behind to beat City in last week’s Champions League last 16 clash, and given that he has missed just one of their 12 European games this season, the Monaco boss clearly trusts Bakayoko in his midfield.
And this experience of Champions League football, as well as being in and around the Monaco first team in their Ligue 1 title quest this season, will be invaluable to Bakayoko, as will it to Chelsea, who will be under pressure next term to back up this season’s achievements both domestically and in Europe.
Bakayoko is a very highly-rated midfielder who has been attracting interest all season, so if Chelsea can get a deal done ahead of the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, they will have a star not only for the present, but also for the future.