Since Paris Saint-Germain’s return to play last month, defender Mitchel Bakker has become the biggest stock riser on the team. Before the halt in play due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bakker made just three official appearances in all competitions. But due to the recent injury crisis over at the left-back position, Bakker earned playing time in the team’s friendlies and two domestic cup final wins over the past month.
In speaking to PSG TV, Bakker talked about what it has been like to feature in more fixtures with the first-team.
“We have been working very hard since we returned to training,” Bakker said. “The squad wants to play well. We played a lot of matches in July and on a personal note, I have been playing a lot and having a lot of fun with the team. I played a few matches before the lockdown, and I’ve played a lot since. It’s great.”
Bakker was a key contributor in the team’s arduous 1-0 win over Olympique Lyonnais in the Coupe de la Ligue final. He recorded seven ground duels won and six tackles won. He talked about the performance and what made the contest a more difficult duel than expected.
“The final against Lyon was a very different game because Lyon are a very good side, very strong, a side that are still in the Champions League,” Bakker said. “The match was very long… no goals… And penalties are always 50-50. Keylor helped us get the win and that’s the most important thing.”
Bakker is now earning the trust of manager Thomas Tuchel. He went in-depth on his growing relationship with the German manager.
“The coach talks to me a lot,” Bakker said. “He asks me to play simple, to play neat football. He gives me a lot of advice and I follow it to the letter. I can help the team going forward, but my job, first and foremost, is to defend well.”
With the recent rise in playing time, Bakker has showcased to the coaching staff just what he is capable of as a left-back. He reflected on his recent growth as a player.
“I have grown in confidence,” Bakker said. “My game has progressed but, above all, I’m learning every day.”
Bakker could end up playing in the biggest game of his career next week in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal duel against Atalanta.
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