His left hand leans on Thiago Silva’s shoulder. His right hand is on the shoulder of Leandro Paredes. The star ensemble of Paris Saint-Germain poses for a team photo. In the background, the Eiffel Tower provides light.
Three players wear a cap: Neymar, the absolute star, Kylian Mbappé, the French prodigy, and Mitchel Bakker, the 20-year-old left back from Purmerend. On his Instagram, Neymar shares the picture with his 141 million (!) followers.
“Yeah, that was fun,” Baker says with a big smile. “We had a team outing and were on a boat. It was the 14th of July, the French national holiday. So there were fireworks everywhere. Yes, that was fun.”
Bakker just had a practice session with the Dutch Junior Team. The defender is there for the first time and made his debut last Friday in and against Belarus (7-0 win).
There was a lot to do about that match beforehand. Because of the coronaproblems, but also because of the political unrest in Belarus. The players of the Dutch Junior League did not get much of that
It fits with the development the talent has gone through. When he traded in Jong Ajax for PSG in the summer of 2019 there was a strange reaction. What did a boy who does not come to Paris in the first of Ajax have to look for?
Basic places in finals
More than a year later Bakker’s name appears more and more on the competition form. Okay, that also had to do with the injuries of competitors Juan Bernat and Layvin Kurzawa, but still. Coach Thomas Tuchel has yet to get started with Bakker.
The final of the Coup de France? Bakker started. The final of the Coupe de la Ligue? Baker started. And twice after that, he was with the cup in his hands. “I think I filled it up fine.”
Every now and then he has to get used to it. No Boy Kemper or Teun Bijleveld as teammates, but Ángel Di María and Mauro Icardi. “Then I look around me and I think: yes, these are really beautiful things. Normally you don’t experience this so fast, so I cherish it.”
At PSG Bakker learned the most from Thiago Silva, the 35-year-old Brazilian centre defender who left for Chelsea this summer. “I stood next to him in the field a couple of times. When he sees what he can do better, he says it immediately. You take that right away and you’re gonna do something with it.”
Manager Tuchel praises the Dutchman for his reliability and physical ability. Bakker has speed and a drive to the front and has a fierce way of defending. Outside the field, during the interview, on the other hand, the player comes across as calm.
Quiet in the group app of PSG
So it turns out he’s also manifesting himself in the PSG group app. “Important information that passes by, I check. I don’t talk that much myself.” There’s no online game with Neymar yet. “Others send funny things sometimes, but I stay calm.”
The Scottish media reported that Celtic was interested in hiring Bakker from PSG, but the club won’t let him go. Bakker himself does not expect that the Whatsapp report Mitchel Bakker has left the group will be visible soon.
The youngster prefers to stay longer in France. “I haven’t heard anything about Celtic, but I want to stay at PSG and hope for more playing time.”
Another player with an impressive club behind his name is Ludovit Reis. He exchanged FC Groningen for FC Barcelona in the summer of 2019. In contrast to Bakker, Reis has not yet made minutes in the main force.
Double feeling at Journey after 8-2 humiliation
That moment seems to come closer and closer. He was in the last two selections for duels in the Champions League. He was there when Barcelona was humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich.
“I do have a double feeling about that”, Reis says. “Because I was allowed to come along and of course it’s not just a game. But going off the field like that is the worst thing you can experience as a football player”
The historic defeat turned out to be the beginning of chaos for the Catalans. Trainer Quique Setién was fired, Ronald Koeman came. “I’m curious”, Reis reacted to the arrival of the national coach. “I haven’t spoken to him yet.”
Koeman’s entry into Barcelona could be advantageous for the midfielder. “Dutch, of course, is easier to communicate than Spanish. I hope I get a chance. I still believe in it.”