Ibrahima Bakayoko is most likely remembered as the first great wonderkid of the CM franchise, bursting on to the scene on the 97/98 version. And from what came after, it seems being this CM wonderkid was the highpoint of his life, or at least that’s how it felt after his spell with Everton.
He was listed as an attacking midfielder/forward centre, always a popular position throughout the CM series, where even the relatively bad player could still prosper in the all conquering 3-5-2 (or was it 3-4-1-2?) formation. His stats speak for themselves, 18 Pace, 20 Influence, 18 Shooting – he was a goal scoring machine sent back in time from the future to rip up the Premier League.
He was for many, the first in a long line of players that they were first introduced to through CM. It was a magical era: pre internet where clubs were also beginning to use the scouting tools offered by CM to find the next ‘wonderkid’. It also allowed a new generation of hipster football fans to tell their mates about the new young ‘star’ from Ivory Coast. That being said, if others had scouted him, they let Everton buy him, so they probably knew something wasn’t quite as it appeared.
Mr Bakayoko, as with pretty much all CM legends, didn’t have the illustrious career his early form promised. He was at Montpellier for the 97/98 season, but did get a 4.5 million pound move to Everton, where he didn’t exactly set the world alight. 4 goals in 23 games followed, and although I hold vivid memories of a winning FA Cup goal against Bristol City (does anyone know if I dreamt this?), he seemingly peaked with a brace in a win at Blackburn Rovers. Ronaldo never managed a brace at Ewood Park, so he obviously had something about him.
After gracing English shores he moved back to France, and more specifically to Marseille. He spent a further 4 years there, where he enjoyed a modicum of success notching 34 goals in 115 games, including the opening goal for Marseille in the Champions League at Old Trafford at the start of the 99/00 season. Sadly for Marseille and Ibrahima they went on to lose 2-1.
After that, he spent no more than a couple of years anywhere, but did gain promotion from the Greek football league to the top flight in 10-11 with PAS Giannina, finishing as top scorer with 19 goals. Interestingly, Malian Mamadou Bagayoko (who once randomly played for Doncaster), and who is no relation, also played for PAS Giannina. Clearly, they loved bagging Bagayokos/Bakayokos.
He did net 30 goals in 45 games for Ivory Coast, which puts him second only to Didier Drogba in their all time scorers list. Although as with most Ivory Coast players didn’t manage to win the African Cup of Nations with them. So we hail IbrahimaBakayoko, a man yes, a myth certainly and quite possibly the greatest Ivorian in the history of the CM.