Tiemoue Bakayoko has come in for criticism this season after struggling to adapt to Chelsea after his £40 million move from Monaco, but William Gallas thinks he should ignore the critics and take his time to adapt to English football.
The 23-year-old's Stamford Bridge career started with a good performance in a 2-1 win away to Tottenham, prior to which he had rushed back from a knee injury in order to help his new club solve a selection crisis.
However, his form has suffered in recent months. At its nadir, he was dismissed against Watford, who went on to thrash the Blues 4-1. A small section of the Chelsea support booed Bakayoko upon his return against Crystal Palace, but Gallas thinks that the star can go from zero to hero very quickly.
“I would tell him to just ignore what people have said,” the Frenchman told Goal. “Maybe they are right so maybe you have to work more, but don’t let people put you down because you play football.
“That was your dream to play football and you made a lot of sacrifices to be where you are. Don’t let people put you down and take the criticism in a positive way. Try to finish the season well and be ready for next year.
“You can prove people wrong because if you start to play well next season everyone will say: ‘Oh yeah, Bakayoko is the best midfielder we have.’ Everyone knows how it works so just ignore what people say to you.
“I was in the same situation, I will give you my best example. When I moved from Arsenal to Tottenham in my first game, my fans were booing me. I said ‘Oh my God!’ First game boos, second game boos.
“I said: ‘Okay, I decided to play for Spurs for many reasons and no one knows exactly why you went to Tottenham, so you have to show you are working hard and prove them wrong.’ Slowly, slowly, they started to clap me. That’s football. That’s why we love football.
“I know now football is really, really impatient. People want results straight away, but what we have to understand is that he arrived from Monaco. The English language is not his first language so you have to adapt.
“He has to adapt as well to Premier League football, you have to give him time. That’s why it is really difficult to speak before, I like to give time to the players and the manager. For me, if I have to judge him, I will do it next season. For me, this season is about adaptation.
“Everything changed for him. Football, language, maybe the family, maybe it is difficult for him to find an apartment or a house and to feel good. I will judge him next season.”
Gallas played over 200 games for Chelsea and also played for Tottenham in his time in the Premier League. He now works as a Premier League pundit on SFR Sport.