Johan Bakayoko is a Belgian right-winger who plays for PSV in the Dutch Eredivisie. Bakayoko played in the youth academies of OH Leuven, Club Brugge, KV Mechelen and RSC Anderlecht before joining PSV’s youth academy. After a few years in PSV’s youth academy, Bakayoko made his first-team debut in 2022. The 20-year-old got a lot of playing time in 2022/23 but has really cemented himself as a starter this season. However, it remains a question whether he will remain as a starter as PSV just signed Hirving Lozano. Bakayoko also made his debut for the national team of Belgium this year. He was linked to a €40m move to Brentford but reportedly declined this move on the last day of the transfer window.
Standing at 1.79 meters with a very muscular and strong build, Johan Bakayoko has a very interesting build for a winger. He is very strong in shoulder-to-shoulder duels and has good strength in physical duels. Bakayoko is very quick over long distances and has a decent burst, although he can sometimes struggle to create separation from a standstill. He has very good changes of directions and is capable of gliding past his opponent due to his good balance and footwork. Bakayoko is a very active presser and forces the opponent to make mistakes. He also tracks back pretty well and fulfills his defensive tasks. Due to his good jumping reach and body strength he is also decent in aerial duels.
Bakayoko almost always provides width and drops deep for PSV in possession, dragging the opponent’s left-back out of position creating space for his teammates. His first touch under pressure is good with his left foot but inconsistent with his right foot. Bakayoko’s short passing technique is very secure but he can sporadically be sloppy. His long passing and crossing technique is very nice. The execution of his inswinging crosses from deep is still slightly inconsistent. The Belgian winger is a very high-volume dribbler but is still slightly inconsistent as he tends to struggle against strong and aggressive defenders while also sometimes struggling to create separation from a standstill. Bakayoko is capable of dribbling past his opponent both on the in- and outside, making him an unpredictable winger as he also has good ball manipulation and changes of directions in attacking 1v1s. He is capable of turning very quickly and sharply, too.
In the final third, he likes to come inside and look for quick and short combinations with Saibari or De Jong before attempting a shot from distance or switching play. His ball-striking from long range has the potential to be very good, but it can sporadically be a bit uncontrolled. His finishing from close range, especially with his right foot, is also inconsistent and sometimes uncontrolled. His decision-making needs to be worked on, too. He can sporadically shoot from questionable shooting locations or fail to pick out the right pass in dangerous situations. Bakayoko prefers to come short but needs to develop his runs in behind, too. With his speed over long distances, I think he could be more effective if he makes more runs in behind. Bakayoko sometimes tries to get on the receiving end from crosses to the far post, which is a skill that he has developed in recent months. His headed finishing is not always that good, either.
Even though Johan Bakayoko is still raw and inconsistent, I think Brentford would have been a great destination for the Belgian winger. Despite not having played a full season as a starter for PSV, he has the physical strength, technique and mentality to thrive in the Premier League at a mid-table club. His finishing and decision-making needs some work but he will get better as he gains experience in the Eredivisie. Bakayoko also needs to improve his right foot and should be looking to make more runs in behind. While I don’t think he has world-class potential, Bakayoko could become a good squad player for Champions League clubs in the top 5 leagues as he is on his way to becoming a very good right-winger with potentially elite dribbling and chance creation ability.