Bakayoko says ‘father figure’ Gattuso has passed on his warrior spirit

Tiemoue Bakayoko

On-loan Chelsea midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko says AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso has instilled him with a fighting spirit after a rocky start to their relationship.

The 24-year-old joined the Rossoneri on loan with the option to buy last summer, but he endured a difficult start to life in Serie A as he struggled to adapt to Italian football.

Gattuso publicly criticised Bakayoko’s "defects" after a 3-2 defeat to Napoli in Milan’s opening game of the season, but he has since become one of the club’s standout performers and formed a strong bond with the former Italy international.

“The first weeks didn’t go so well,” Bakayoko said to Bros. Stories.

“Everyone welcomed me well, the conditions were good to express myself.

“Sometimes you think adaptation is going to be quick and that you’ll be able to give 100 per cent right away.

“But it didn’t go like that unfortunately and the fans weren’t so nice to me. My relationship with the manager? I didn’t like what he said.

“I’m not going to repeat it, but they were harsh words. Especially after I played 20 minutes in my first game, being tough right away…

“I didn’t like it, I told him and things are better now. I know his character. Gattuso is a warrior-type of manager and man. He wanted to pass this spirit to me, which I probably didn’t have before.

“This fighting spirit, I got it here. He’s like a father figure now. Our relationship is excellent. We talk about everything. Having such a kind of relationship with the manager is great.”