Sako with Saint-Étienne in 2011
|Full name||Bakary Sako|
|Date of birth||26 April 1988|
|Place of birth||Ivry-sur-Seine, France|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder / Winger|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17:35, 21 May 2017 (UTC).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 19:47, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
Sako had been with Châteauroux since 2001, joining the club as an academy player. He made his league debut on the final matchday of the 2005–06 Ligue 2 season coming on as a half-time substitute in a 4–1 victory over Bastia. Following the season, he signed his first professional contract after agreeing to a three-year deal. He was promoted to the senior squad and assigned the number 26 shirt.
During the next two seasons, Sako was limited to mostly substitute appearances. He did score his first league goal, during the 2007–08 season, in a 1–2 defeat against Brest. During the 2008–09 season Sako became an integral part of the team, helping the club narrowly avoid relegation on the final day.
On 29 August 2012, Sako signed for Championship club Wolverhampton Wanderers on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee that was reported to be £2.2 million. He scored on his Wolves debut in a League Cup tie against Northampton on 30 August 2012, and again on his league debut in the following match, a 1–3 defeat at Cardiff.
The winger adapted well to English football, scoring ten times in total and contributing eleven assists. However, his season was halted early when he tore his hamstring in March 2013 in a match against Bristol City, which ruled him out for much of the season's final games, during which the team were relegated to League One.
Sako was the subject of transfer speculation during Summer 2013 with interest from Fulham in June 2013 but the London club did not meet a reported £4 million asking price. Owing to his uncertain future, the player did not play in Wolves' final match of the transfer window as he "didn't feel he was in the right frame of mind". Several reported bids from Nottingham Forest were rejected by the club. In October 2013, Forest again attempted to set up a deal but Wolves pulled out of negotiations citing that "the terms surrounding the offer were unrealistic".
Despite the initial speculation surrounding his future and the breakdown of his proposed move to Nottingham Forest, Sako went on to have a productive season for Wolves, finishing as joint top-scorer alongside the departed Leigh Griffiths as Wolves won the League One title with a record points haul for the third tier. Sako was also named in the PFA League One Team of the Year for the 2013–14 season alongside four of his teammates.
Back at Championship level, Sako continued to score regularly for Wolves and was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year for the 2014–15 season. He finished the season as the club's (joint) top goalscorer as the team missed out on the play-offs on goal difference. Out of contract with the club, he voiced his desire to play in the Premier League, while head coach Kenny Jackett stated that he expected Sako to depart.
On 5 August 2015, Sako joined Premier League side Crystal Palace on a three-year contract following his release from Wolves. He scored his first goal for the club on his full debut against Aston Villa on 22 August 2015. Sako then scored again the following week away to Chelsea, in a 2-1 win, which was Jose Mourinho's second ever loss at Stamford Bridge. Sako also assisted the second goal scored by Joel Ward.
Sako played for the Malian U17 team in one friendly match in 2005, while the team was preparing for the 2005 African Under-17 Championship. The following year, he returned to the French team playing with the under-18 squad. He was a member of the French squad that participated in the 2007 European Under-19 Championship reaching the semi-finals before being eliminated by Spain. He made his French under-21 debut on 11 February 2009 in a friendly match against Tunisia. He scored his first under-21 goal in the 2009 Toulon Tournament against Qatar.
Sako was called up by the Malian national team for the first time for a friendly against Senegal on 5 March 2014. He scored his first international goal against Guinea in a friendly match played in Colombes, France, on 25 May 2014. His first goal in competitive internationals came when he scored the opener in a 2–0 win over Malawi in an Africa Cup of Nations qualification match played in Bamako on 7 September 2014. In December 2014 Sako was called up to the Mali squad for the finals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Equatorial Guinea in January 2015. This was to be his first taste of a senior international tournament.
Sako started Mali's first two matches in group D of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea. These both finished in 1–1 draws, against Cameroon on 20 January and against Ivory Coast on 24 January. Sako scored a left-foot half-volley against Ivory Coast that the BBC hailed as the goal of the tournament at that point. Sako was unable to start the final and decisive group game against Guinea due to an illness though he did appear from the bench for the final 15 minutes of the game. This too ended in a 1–1 stalemate, meaning that five of the six games in group D finished 1–1 and this led to the drawing of lots between Mail and Guinea to decide who qualified for the quarter finals and who went home. It was Guinea who emerged from the hat, meaning the Eagles exited the tournament unbeaten.
- Scores and results list Mali's goal tally first.
|1.||25 May 2014||Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir, Colombes, France||Guinea||1–0||1–2||Friendly|||
|2.||7 September 2014||Stade du 26 Mars, Bamako, Mali||Malawi||1–0||2–0||2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification|||
|3.||15 October 2014||Stade du 26 Mars, Bamako, Mali||Ethiopia||1–0||2–3||2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification|||
|4.||24 January 2015||Nuevo Estadio de Malabo, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea||Ivory Coast||1–0||1–1||2015 Africa Cup of Nations|||
|5.||25 March 2015||Stade Pierre Brisson, Beauvais, France||Gabon||3–3||3–4||Friendly|||
|6.||31 March 2015||Stade Sébastien Charléty, Paris, France||Ghana||1–1||1–1||Friendly|||
|7.||9 October 2015||Stade de l'Aube, Troyes, France||Burkina Faso||1–0||4–1||Friendly|||
|9.||17 November 2015||Stade du 26 Mars, Bamako, Mali||Botswana||2–0||2–0||2018 FIFA World Cup qualification|||
|Crystal Palace||2015–16||Premier League||20||2||3||0||0||0||—||23||2|
- "Professional retain list & free transfers 2012/13" (PDF). The Football League. 18 May 2013. p. 26. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- Bastia v. Chateauroux Match Report. Lfp.fr. Retrieved on 29 September 2012.
- Embouteillage en équipe nationale. 24sn.com. Retrieved on 29 September 2012.
- Chateauroux v. Brest Match Report. Lfp.fr. Retrieved on 29 September 2012.
- "Wolves sign Bakary Sako from St Etienne on three-year deal". BBC Sport. 29 August 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- "Wolverhampton Wanderers' Bakary Sako pleads for move to Fulham". The Observer. 29 June 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- "Northampton 1–3 Wolves". BBC Sport. 30 August 2012.
- "Cardiff 3–1 Wolves". BBC Sport. 2 September 2012.
- "Bakary Sako". ESPN.
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- "Wolves trio Carl Ikeme, Bakary Sako and Dave Edwards ruled out for the season". Express & Star. 25 March 2013.
- "Wolves turn down Nottingham Forest Bakary Sako bid". Express & Star. 1 September 2013.
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- "Club Statement: Bakary Sako". Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. 4 October 2013.
- "Five Wolves players named in League One team of the year". Express & Star. 28 April 2014.
- "PFA Championship Team of the Year". BBC Sport. 26 April 2015.
- "Sako thanks for support". Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. 4 May 2015.
- "Gaffer expects Sako to move on". Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. 2 May 2015.
- "Sako Signs Eagles Deal". cpfc.co.uk. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
- "Crystal Palace 2-1 Aston Villa". BBC Sport. 22 August 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Mali call-up for Wolves winger Bakary Sako". Express and Star. 28 February 2014.
- Mali vs. Guinea (1:2). National Football Teams (27 April 2015). Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "Ten-man Mali hold on to defeat Malawi in Afcon qualifier". BBC. 7 September 2014.
- Bakary Sako. National Football Teams. Retrieved on 12 May 2015.
- "B. SAKO". Soccerway. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "B. SAKO". National-Football-Teams. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
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