Talented forward signs until 2018...The club are delighted to confirm that Amadou Bakayoko has signed a new contract, keeping him at the Banks’s until the summer of 2018, with an option of a further year in the club’s favour.
The 20-year old striker, whose contract was set to expire at the end of the season, has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign under Jon Whitney having made 15 appearances in all competitions.
He scored his first senior goal and first hat-trick for the club in a 5-2 thrashing of Grimsby Town in the Checkatrade Trophy before marking his full league debut with a goal against Shrewsbury Town in October.
“I’m over the moon to be honest,” smiled Bakayoko. “To be here for another season means I can kick on and really push on with my football.
“I’m more confident in my ability than I ever have been and it’s not arrogance but I know I can go out there and do my thing now.
“I’ve shown what I can do, what I’m capable of and I know there’s a lot more to come through working hard in training.
“I’ve always said I don’t set targets and haven’t this year. I just want to play as many games as I can, keep improving and hopefully become a great striker one day.”
Born in Sierra Leone, Bakayoko moved to Holland at six years of age. After a short spell with Dutch side FC Groningen, his family relocated to England where Bakayoko, then aged 10, continued to develop as an aspiring footballer.
He was spotted whilst playing Sunday League football as a 16-year old and was offered a scholarship by the club in the spring of 2011.
Prolific at youth team level, his 14 goals in 21 appearances during his final year as an apprentice was enough to convince then Manager Dean Smith to offer him a professional contract in December 2013.
After enjoying loan spells at Southport, AFC Telford and Worcester City in his first two seasons as a professional, Bakayoko returned in the summer ready for first team action and has been a regular name in Jon Whitney’s matchday squads this campaign.
“I had to go out on loan and get my experience up and it definitely helped my progression,” he added. “But I think it’s also helped having the gaffer [Jon Whitney] and coaching staff around me for a few seasons.
“The fans have always been amazing with me as well and it’s so good knowing that I’ve had their support whenever I’ve played.
“It really gives you an extra boost when you come on to the pitch and it makes you want to give them something back to cheer.
“Hopefully I can kick on now, play more games and score more goals for them.”
“We’re really pleased with Ama,” added Saddlers Boss Jon Whitney. “He showed what he was about during pre season and has progressed really well over the past few months.
“He’s a player who has always had great potential but he’s shown he’s got the right work ethic and application this year to develop into a real asset.
“It’s great for him and for the club. He can settle down and concentrate on his football now.
“He done the right thing and went out on loan early on in his career and I think it gave him a comparative and taught him all about men’s football.
“I went to see him a few times when he was with Worcester and he really stood out on the pitch. He looked like a player who was a level above and he’s taken those attributes into the first team.
“Scoring his goals has helped his confidence and now he’s got to look at increasing his starting appearances and that’ll come through hard work and enthusiasm on and off the pitch.”