Johan Bakayoko was one of the standout players in the 2023-24 Eredivisie season. He’s heading to Euro 2024 with Belgium as a player in demand, with a host of European clubs reportedly looking to secure his signature.

PSV had an outstanding Eredivisie campaign, scoring in each of their 34 league games, losing only once all season and amassing 91 points – the second-highest tally in Dutch top-flight history. On the way to the 2023-24 league title, they scored 111 goals and recorded a +90 goal difference, matching the best-ever record in Eredivisie history.

Among numerous standout performances, right-winger Johan Bakayoko emerged as a star. The 21-year-old Belgian had a breakout season and now appears ready for a move to a top European club this summer.

For many fans, Bakayoko’s rise was anticipated. In the 2020-21 season he netted 17 goals and provided 10 assists for Jong PSV in the Dutch second tier. That was the second-most goal involvements for a teenager on record (since 2014-15), only behind Naci Ünüvar’s (28 for Jong Ajax that same season). Those performances earned Bakayoko the competition’s Best Talent award.

However, Bakayoko’s journey wasn’t always smooth sailing. Playing for various Belgian youth teams, including OH Leuven, Club Brugge, KV Mechelen, and RSC Anderlecht, he reportedly struggled with his work ethic and tactical acumen. His move to PSV was pivotal, where he learned the importance of defensive responsibilities as a winger, transforming into the well-rounded team player he is today.

In the 2022-23 season, Bakayoko had to be patient at PSV, with Cody Gakpo, Noni Madueke, and Xavi Simons all ahead of him in the pecking order. However, following the departures of Gakpo and Madueke to the Premier League in the winter of that campaign, Bakayoko seized his opportunity, starting in 12 of the remaining 17 league games.

In 2023-24, with Xavi departing and newly acquired Noa Lang frequently injured, PSV relied on the youngster for creativity and his one-v-one skills. He didn’t let them down.

Only Eredivisie top scorer Luuk de Jong had more goal involvements (44) for PSV in league competition across 2023-24 than Bakayoko (21), who scored 12 times and provided nine assists.

Of players with at least 20 goal involvements in the top 10 European leagues last season, only Jude Bellingham (25) and Florian Wirtz (22) provided more goal involvements and were younger than Bakayoko.

Johan Bakayoko Goal Involvements

Bakayoko epitomizes the modern winger. Playing on the right with his strong left foot, he can cut inside for a shot or deliver an inswinging cross, while also possessing the speed and dribbling ability to beat his opponent on the inside or outside.

In the 2023-24 Eredivisie, Bakayoko averaged 3.5 shots, 2.5 chances created (2.3 from open play) and 3.3 completed dribbles per 90 minutes. Only eight players with at least 1,500 minutes in the top 10 European leagues matched his 3+ shots, 2+ chances created, and 3+ completed dribbles per 90: Napoli star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Crystal Palace’s Eberechi Eze, Leroy Sané at Bayern Munich, Porto’s Francisco Conçeiçao and fellow Belgian Jérémy Doku at Manchester City.

Bakayoko’s crossing ability is also notable. Only three players recorded more successful crosses from open play in the Eredivisie (26), with 14 of his crosses finding De Jong in attack. Only three players had more successful crosses to a specific teammate this season, and all were responsible for set pieces. Additionally, only two players created more chances for a teammate than Bakayoko for De Jong (15). Bakayoko himself described the De Jong option as a “cheat code.”

He excels with the ball at his feet, driving forward with carries or beating his man. Only four attackers in the top six leagues had more progressive carries than Bakayoko in the Eredivisie (334), accumulating a total carry progress of 3,781 meters, comparable to Rafael Leão (3,868) and Alejandro Garnacho (3,733) in their respective leagues.

He combines this forward drive with attacking output. Overall, Bakayoko had 72 shot involvements following a carry this season (38 shots and 34 chances created). Only two players in the top five European leagues with at least 1,500 minutes averaged more shot involvements per 90 after carrying the ball at least five metres: Doku (3.5) and PSG’s Ousmane Dembélé (3.4).

Johan Bakayoko Dribbling

Critics might argue that the Eredivisie is weaker than the top five European leagues, but Bakayoko also showcased his abilities in the UEFA Champions League.

He recorded 8.3 attacking sequence involvements in open play per 90 across PSV’s 2023-24 Champions League campaign (3.3 shots, 2.5 chances created, and 2.5 build-ups), only topped by Phil Foden (10.3), Rodri (9.3), and Dembélé (8.4) of players with at least 540 minutes played.

Johan Bakayoko Impact

Bakayoko’s overall Champions League stats were comparable, if not better, than his Eredivisie performance. The young Belgian thrived under the bright lights, once even imitating his idol Ronaldinho.

Johan Bakayoko PSV

Using the Opta Player Radars to show similar traits among players within the top five European leagues across the last 15 years, last season saw Bakayoko have the closest similarity score to Neymar at Barcelona in 2016-17 (95% similarity) – the season before the Brazilian’s record-breaking move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Johan Bakayoko Stats

Neymar completed 168 dribbles that La Liga season, a feat only bettered by Lionel Messi in a single Spanish league campaign since 2005-06. While Bakayoko, of course, isn’t yet at Neymar’s level, the 21-year-old winger brings a similar excitement to his team.

Bakayoko turned down a move to PSG last summer to gain valuable playing time at PSV. After another impressive season, rumours of moves to European giants like Liverpool and Bayern Munich are circulating. There are obvious links with both clubs, with new Bayern coach Vincent Kompany knowing how talented his fellow Belgian is, while incoming Liverpool boss Arne Slot will have seen enough of him in the Dutch top-flight across 2023-24 while at Feyenoord.

The player will aim to make a statement at Euro 2024, potentially forming a lethal front three with Romelu Lukaku and Doku for Belgium. He will have to fight for a place in the starting XI, with a lack of experience compared to his teammates, but if he continues his club form then Bakayoko could be one to watch this summer in Germany.

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