World Football

Johan Bakayoko – Wonderkid Watch

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In the first of what is hopefully a long-running series, I take a look at unheard-of wonderkids making their name across the globe. For this edition, we find ourselves in the Netherlands, a nation bursting with young talent.

Although Charles De Ketelaere, Jeremy Doku, and Sambi Lokonga may steal the limelight as “the future of the Belgium National Team”, there is one player in particular that has seemingly gone unnoticed: PSV’s Johan Bakayoko.

Signed from Anderlecht in the summer of 2019 when he was only 16 years old, the tricky winger has recorded a mouth-watering 15 goals and 9 assists this term in the Dutch second division for Jong PSV.

He has also featured 9 times for Belgium’s under 19s, finding the back of the net in three of those matches.

He also made is senior debut for PSV Eindhoven in the KNVB Beker (Dutch cup) against NAC Breda in February and has found himself on the bench for multiple European ties.

PSV lost to Leicester City in the new Europa Conference League quarter final on Thursday, as the midlands-based outfit prepare to take on AS Roma in the semis. Think you know the outcome of this exciting tie? There’s loads of new online betting sites allowing you to put your money where your mouth is!

Johan Bakayoko is quick, agile, skilful, and a right handful. His positional awareness is unmatched in his age group enabling him to find small pockets of space to attack in and catch the opposition defenders off guard. Similar to Liverpool starlet Luis Díaz, Bakayoko will work his way out of difficult situations and hammer a shot towards goal.

24 goal contributions in 24 starts is utterly astounding, and it ranks him 6th best in the league- with predominantly only proven Eredivisie stars above.

EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS – MARCH 18: Johan Bakayoko of PSV U23 celebrates 2-2 with Maximiliano Romero of PSV U23 during the Dutch Keuken Kampioen Divisie match between PSV U23 v Roda JC at the De Herdgang on March 18, 2022 in Eindhoven Netherlands (Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images)

He’s not the only talented, young winger in the PSV ranks. Fellow teammate Noni Madueke has caught the eye of some of Europe’s top clubs after his impressive season last year, making a move away from England after departing Tottenham’s youth academy in 2018.

He’s one of many English youngsters to make the switch abroad. Marcus Edwards, Stephy Mavididi, and of course Jadon Sancho are all proving their worth in Portugal, France, and Germany respectively.

So, what has the future got in store for Johan Bakayoko?

After being called up to train with the PSV senior squad at the start of 2022, and with current Jong PSV head coach Ruud van Nistelrooy set to take over management of the first team in summer, it might not be long before we Bakayoko’s inevitable rise to stardom.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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I am a 20 year-old third year university student reading Philosophy (BA) at the University of Sheffield. I was born and raised in the small town of Berkhamsted, 10 miles from Watford and 30 miles north-west of Central London. My passion for football started at a young age, initially supporting Chelsea as a 6 year old much to my father's dismay. When I was 9 I went to my first Watford FC game and instantly fell in love with the club, leaving The Blues behind. Ever since, I have attended over 100 home games at Vicarage Road (where I am currently a season ticket holder in the Rookery Stand) and a handful of away games in multiple different countries.

I intend to venture into broadcast journalism.