The manager, speaking after Milan beat Napoli 2-0 at the San Siro, lauded the Chelsea loanee for his recent performances.
Despite new signing Krzysztof Piatek stealing the headlines with a brace, Gattuso reserved special commendation for the French midfielder's development at the club.
He told Rai Sport: “He has learned so much about transitions, as at the start he got it wrong most of the time, but today he can do diagonal runs and close off the passing channels.
"He is a very important player for us.”
The 24-year-old has helped anchor the Milan midfield, helping to guide them into fourth place in Serie A and the Coppa Italia semi-final.
Gattuso added: “I think he’s an atypical deep-lying midfielder in modern football. He can turn the moves from defensive to attacking, he takes men on and always gets past them."
Bakayoko has broken into the Milan first team after initially appearing off the bench – starting the last 14 games.
The French international went on a season-long loan to Milan after new Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri wanted to trim the squad upon arrival.
It's a change in fortune for the player who was much-maligned at Stamford Bridge after joining for almost £40million in 2017.
Though he made 43 appearances for Chelsea that season, underwhelming performances meant he was criticised for not living up to his price tag.
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