GOAL - James Westwood
Tiemoue Bakayoko has defended his decision to rejoin Monaco from Chelsea, insisting the move is not "a step back" at this stage of his career.
The 25-year-old has re-signed for Monaco on a loan deal until the end of the season, with an option to buy next summer included for the Ligue 1 outfit.
The France international completed a £40 million ($49m) move from Stade Louis II to Chelsea in 2017, but he struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League.
After a disappointing debut season at Stamford Bridge, Bakayoko was shipped out on loan to Milan for the 2018-19 season, where he racked up 31 Serie A appearances in total.
Upon his return to Chelsea earlier this summer, it quickly became clear that the midfielder would not be in Frank Lampard's plans for the new campaign, leading to fresh speculation over his future.
Bakayoko is happy to be back in France after a difficult two-year spell away and he does not see his latest switch as a regressive move.
Speaking at his official unveiling at Monaco, the Blues outcast said: "There was a good opportunity to come back here in a very good project.
"Lots of people will perhaps say that I am taking a step back by coming to Monaco but I see it differently.
"My two experiences abroad allowed me to play a lot, contrary to what a lot of people have said. My season in Milan brought me a lot in terms of new avenues of football and professionalism. I have taken a lot of positive things away from it.
"The club is what is important today. I do not think about my personal ambitions.
"I want to try to perform well on the pitch to help the club reach its objectives. Les Bleus, I think about it, but it will come as and when. I come back with a new standing, I really want to bring to this group what I have learned and to try to transmit more confidence here."
Monaco are now a vastly different side to the Champions League semi-finalists Bakayoko left behind, struggling at the foot of the Ligue 1 table after just four matches of the new season.
Leonardo Jardim's team are 19th in the standings and without a win to their name, with a huge showdown against Marseille up next after the international break.
Chelsea have had a similarly frustrating start in the Premier League, recording just one win, two draws and a loss from their first four fixtures.
Up next for Lampard's men is a tricky trip to Wolves on September 14, before they make their long-awaited return to the Champions League group stages with a home clash against Valencia three days later.