Bakinson's the 'mini Pogba' who has been a big hit on loan before and will now look to prove the doubters wrong
- Credit: PA/ITFC
Ipswich Town have signed midfielder Tyreeq Bakinson on loan from Bristol City for the rest of the season. Andy Warren looks at the 23-year-old's football journey to this point.
Born in London, Bakinson joined the Luton youth set-up at the age of 10 and progressed through the Hatters’ system, before signing a professional deal at just 17.
The talent was clear, particularly when it came to his ability on the ball.
He made his Luton debut on the final day of the 2015/16 season and was involved again during the following campaign, making four EFL Trophy appearances but not managing to break into the league side.
By this point, he was attracting attention from elsewhere and he would soon depart in search of a better situation.
Luton boss Nathan Jones said at the time: “We had a meeting with him in May (2017) and said he would get every opportunity to play but, in pre-season, he was below the standard in terms of what we have
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“So he came to me and said ‘I don’t think I’m going to get in your team, so I want to go, I want to play in someone else’s U23 team.’
“As it was, he had an attitude change, an attitude shift, and I don’t want that. “He’s young, he’s played six games and we gave him those games.
“We’re brave here, we give young players opportunities, so I was hurt by the way he came to see me and what he did and especially some of the things said.”
His destination was Bristol City, heading to Ashton Gate during Town CEO Mark Ashton’s first summer after being promoted to the same role with the Robins.
He was one for the future but a player they saw real promise in. He spent his first season at the club in the Under 23 set-up.
After a year working in the Bristol City youth system, which also included a brief debut for the first-team in October of 2017, Bakinson headed out on loan for the first time as he spent the 2018/19 season with Newport County.
“Tyreeq is a different midfielder to what we’ve got,” said former Newport boss Michael Flynn.
“He gives us a different balance in midfield. He covers the ground well box to box and has a big long stride, which should enable him to get forward and score a few goals for us.
“He’s very good technically, he fits in with the squad and he has the right attitude – he’s hungry and keen to learn.”
It was a successful season for both Bakinson and his temporary club as they reached the fifth round of the FA Cup, knocking out Leicester and Middlesbrough before eventually falling to Manchester City.
They made the League Two play-off final, too, with Bakinson coming off the bench in an extra-time loss to James Norwood’s Tranmere.
“All you want as a footballer is to get game time and play men’s football, to get that exposure,” Bakinson said of his Newport loan.
“You never know what you’re going to get on loan but it is working out well for me.”
He won the Welsh club’s young player-of-the-year award and was also likened to Manchester United’s Paul Pogba by team-mate Matty Dolan.
Then it was on to Plymouth, again in League Two, for the second half of the 2019/20 season.
“Tyreeq is a machine in there,” Argyle midfielder Ryan Lowe said his loan midfielder. “His passing accuracy is spot on.
“He’s always available, he’s breaking play up, he looks the part doesn’t he? But we knew that when we were signing him.”
Bakinson played 14 games and scored twice, between January and March, before the season was halted due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Plymouth were ultimately promoted to League One when the final table was calculated.
The Bristol breakthrough
Lowe wanted Bakinson back at Plymouth for the 2020/21 campaign, but City kept him around when Championship football began behind closed doors.
It was the youngster’s big break after an impressive pre-season and he went on to take his chance, making 39 appearances for City under Dean Holden and then Nigel Pearson in his first campaign in the first-team. He chipped in with four goals, too.
He made a quick first impression, exciting supporters at a time when City needed answers in midfield and forcing his way into the side as a defensive holder in a variety of different systems.
He was well-and-truly part of the first-team.
That continued into this season under Pearson, but he’s found football harder to come by, while also missing time after testing positive for coronavirus.
He’s still made 14 appearances, though, including a run of seven-successive starts which convinced City to take up the option to extend his contract for a further 12 months. His deal was due to expire at the end of this campaign.
“Tyreeq will develop as far as he wants to because he has got the tools and I am pleased that he is starting to perform in a way we need him to as a team – that’s the key,” Robins boss Nigel Pearson said of the contract extension.
“He is a player who gives us a different skillset to some of the other players we have got and is a talented player for sure but he is not the finished article.
“Tyreeq has an eye for a goal too, which is important, and I’m pleased that we have extended his contract and he is happy to be here.”
Pearson has changed his tune as Bakinson’s departure nears, though.
“As far as I'm concerned, and I've said it before, if players don't want to be here they can go,” he said of the midfielder.
"I'm not bothered. He's a player who unfortunately just wants to play on his own terms. It's not something I particularly want so he can go.
"I'm not wasting energy on negativity, I don't invest time on that, I'm not just saying it. If you ask people who work with me they'll say exactly the same thing, I don't waste energy on negativity, it drives me mad.
"If people aren't in the side, I want them to work hard to get there and I want people who are in the side to work hard to stay there. I don't want people that when the going gets tough, they want to go somewhere else, I'm not interested.
"The fact that I am prepared to say, 'yeah, let the deal go ahead' because actually, people around the place who sap the energy out of other people is not as valuable as having people here who want to be playing."
Not a ringing endorsement by any means, but Bakinson will now have the chance to set his own tone at Ipswich and Town fans, as well as boss Kieran McKenna, can make up their own minds.
Any player deserves that clean slate when joining a new club.
So what can Ipswich fans expect from the ‘mini Pogba’?
Well, he stands 6ft 3in tall and is said to offer physicality, athleticism and excellent technical ability to move the ball up-and-down the pitch.
There’s a feeling he needs to find a new level of consistency to take the next step, though, with good games followed up by below-par displays.
“I will bring a bit of a presence in the midfield, I’m athletic and I try to play,” he said of himself when he joined Plymouth.
Following his Ipswich move, he’s said much the same: "I’m a hard-working player who likes to get on the ball. I’m a box-to-box midfielder and hopefully I’ll get a goal or two."
His first City manager, Lee Johnson, said after his debut in 2017: "He gets across the ground very, very well. He's a good size. Listen, he's young, he's got a million things to work on and I don't think he gave the ball away. He was neat and tidy.
"Tactically we probably have to do some work with him but the raw ingredients and the frame is there for him to be anything he wants.”
An article by the Bristol Post , focused on the midfielder said of him: “Bakinson has natural power but he marries that with a calmness and poise in possession, which makes him destructive off the ball but delicate and decisive when on it.
“Keeping the Robins ticking over and disrupting the opposition’s play in a defensive sense.”
And Pearson, despite what appears to be a sour ending, said: "Technically he’s a pretty gifted player but you can’t always play the game at the pace you want to play at.
“He’s developed this season and that’s down to him, that’s down to his understanding that if he’s going to be a success at this level he has to adjust how he plays."
McKenna’s is the opinion that matters now, though.
"Tyreeq is a versatile midfielder who can play across the pitch and cover a number of positions,” the Town boss said.
“He offers us something different and is at an age where he has lots of years ahead to improve further.
"We really like Tyreeq as a player. He’s young, hungry, athletic and technical. He is fit and has played plenty of games already this season, so it won’t take him long to get up to speed.”
It remains to be seen whether Town’s new No.12 is involved when the Blues face Accrington this weekend.