Chelsea have finally confirmed the signing of Tiemoue Bakayoko from AS Monaco, bringing to an end one of the summer's most protracted transfer sagas. The French international has penned a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge and follows Willy Caballero and Antonio Rudiger as Antonio Conte's third senior signing of the current transfer window.
No financial details relating to the deal have been officially disclosed, although The Guardian report that Bakayoko's move is worth up to €45m (£39.4m). In a break with recent tradition, the Premier League champions announced their latest arrival with a simple picture of the 22-year-old holding up a shirt rather than attempting to outdo their rivals with another elaborate transfer video.
"I am very happy to be here and to join this great team," boyhood Blues fan Bakayoko, who will inherit the number 14 shirt vacated by Bertrand Traore in west London, told Chelsea's official website.
"I have grown up watching Chelsea. Signing was the natural thing for me because it is a club I loved very much in my childhood. I am now looking forward to evolving under this fantastic coach and alongside so many great team-mates."
Chelsea are said to have faced late competition from Manchester United in the race to land former Rennes midfielder Bakayoko, who made 51 total appearances in 2016-17 as Leonardo Jardim's young and free-scoring Monaco side ended their 17-year wait for an eighth Ligue 1 title and lost to Juventus in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
The deal was delayed by a minor knee injury that forced the player to undergo keyhole surgery at the end of last season and has reportedly left him around six weeks away from full fitness. Such an issue initially prevented him from completing a medical and is likely to see him miss the start of Chelsea's title defence.
Bakayoko finally completed the necessary medical checks on Friday (14 June), after which he scared supporters into thinking that the transfer might be off in a series of typically cryptic social media posts. Following more delays said to relate to late financial demands from Monaco and issues with various intermediaries, Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo expressed delight that Chelsea had added such a talent to their ranks.
"Tiemoue was outstanding as Monaco emerged as one of Europe's best sides last season and we are delighted to welcome him to Chelsea," he said. "Despite his young age he already has plenty of experience as a French title winner and having competed in the latter stages of the Champions League, we believe he will add considerable quality to our squad."
Bakayoko's move will likely hasten the departure of Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic, who, along with Diego Costa, looks set to be left out of Conte's squad for a pre-season trip to the Far East next week amid interest from Manchester United and several clubs in Serie A.