Johan Bakayoko: the showtime winger in perfect balance
The definitive SCOUTED50 profile.
SCOUTED50 is our collection of the fifty young talents we believe are best positioned to break into the mainstream during 2023/24. Throughout the season, we’ll be detailing all fifty in definitive profiles.
The full list can be read here. Here’s our profile on Johan Bakayoko, who ranked #8.
This profile was produced as part of a commercial collaboration with SkillCorner, SCOUTED’s official data partner. SkillCorner’s tracking and performance data is used by more than 140 of the world’s biggest clubs, leagues and confederations. Learn more.
All stats correct as of 10/01/2024 unless otherwise noted.
There are not many players willing to turn down the allure of the Premier League. It is now standard procedure to see players leaving Champions League teams on the mainland to join Premier League sides jostling for mid-table positions, or in some cases, simply fighting to stay in the division.
But every now and then, a player turns down the immediate financial windfall of England to bet on themselves and their ability to push for something greater. In 2023, that player was PSV Eindhoven’s Johan Bakayoko.
With Burnley and Brentford both pushing hard to sign the Belgian winger as deadline day approached, Bakayoko did the unexpected — he said no. In an interview with NOS, he declared his intention to stay at PSV, even if Brentford offered €100 million.
After only six months as a regular in Eindhoven — plus a developing breakthrough at international level for Belgium — now was not the time to take any critical risks with his development.
It seems crazy to consider this bold. PSV are a perennial title contender in a good league and compete in the Champions League regularly. Bakayoko has been a central figure in 12 months of pristine football from PSV: they’ve lost just once in the league since January 2023 and won 30 out of 36 in that period, including a run of 16 consecutive victories to start this season. At the same time, turning down a long term and likely eight-figure contract at the age of 20 certainly takes mental fortitude.
We can now definitively say Bakayoko’s decision to remain in the Netherlands was a smart one. He has become central to PSV’s starting XI, and will surely attract more prestigious and lucrative offers in the summer of 2024. This will ring especially true if he can kick into gear for Belgium at the Euro’s this summer.