French midfielder speaks out after leaving Chelsea for Ligue 1 club

France international Tiemoue Bakayoko has defended his decision to sign for AS Monaco from Chelsea, insisting the transfer is not “a step back” at this stage of his professional career.

The 25-year-old star has re-signed for AS Monaco on a loan deal until the end of the campaign, with an option to buy next year included for the Ligue 1 side.

The midfielder completed a £40 million switch from Stade Louis II to Chelsea back in 2017, but he struggled to adapt to life in the English top-flight.

After a disappointing debut campaign at Stamford Bridge, Tiemoue was shipped out on loan to AC Milan for the 2018-19 term, where he racked up 31 Serie A matches in total.

Upon his return to the Blues earlier this summer, it quickly became clear that the star would not be in Frank Lampard’s plans for the new season, leading to fresh speculation over his long-term future.

Bakayoko is content to be back in France after a difficult two-year stint away and he does not see his latest transfer as a regressive move.

Speaking at his official unveiling at Les Monegasques, the player said: “There was a good opportunity to come back here in a very good project.”

“Lots of people will perhaps say that I am taking a step back by coming to Monaco but I see it differently.”

“The club is what is important today. I do not think about my personal ambitions.”

AS Monaco are now a vastly different club to the Champions League semi-finalists Tiemoue left behind, struggling at the foot of the Ligue 1 standings after just four matches of the new campaign.