Tiemoue Bakayoko’s upturn in form has come as no surprise to Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, who says he knew it would take time for the midfielder to adjust to English football.
The Frenchman made an encouraging start to his Blues career after joining from Monaco in the summer, but his form and confidence dipped, reaching a low point when he was sent off in the humiliating defeat against Watford in February.
But he has been much improved in recent weeks, starting in the wins over Burnley, Swansea and Liverpool and coming on for the last 30 minutes of the FA Cup semi-final success against Southampton.
“I trust him and he played a good game against Liverpool,” Conte said.
“If you remember well, I always said that we are talking about a young player. He is only 23 years old and this is his first year in this country.
“To adapt yourself quickly in this league is not simple and it is not simple to go into our idea of football.”
Bakayoko was once again deployed in a more attacking midfield role in the 1-0 win over Liverpool and seemed much happier.
Conte added: “He has the right characteristics to play for Chelsea. I know him and he has a lot of space for improvement. For this I am sure.”