After one of the most entertaining football matches in recent memory, Frank Lampard’s Derby County have reached the Championship playoff final, the “Richest Game in Football” where the winners go to the Premier League and the losers go back home for another year in the parity madness of the second division.
A key factor in Derby managing to make it this far has been the play of Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori. Alongside center back partner Richard Keogh (or Bec-Keogh-bauer after Tuesday), Tomori has been ever-present for the Rams, starting 53 of their 56 games in all competitions (for the first of which he hadn’t even joined yet), with one substitute appearance, and missing just 259 minutes of the available 5070 for the season. Incidentally, Keogh at age 32 has missed just 18 minutes (minutes!) all season, and has played the third most minutes of any player in European football this season when also counting his 6 international caps for the Republic of Ireland, which is just absolutely unfathomable.
Tomori himself isn’t far behind, at 12th overall, including his 5 international appearances for England U21. (Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga is 18th on the list despite just the 3 appearances for Spain.)
Despite all that, Tomori has flown under the radar a bit, though his performances were certainly not lost on Derby County fans, who recognized him with their Player of the Season award.
So what’s next for Tomori?
As with all loanees who garner rave reviews for their performances (in this case from both Derby manager Frank Lampard and Chelsea loanee liaison Eddie Newton), the ultimate hope is that he can be integrated into the first-team back at Stamford Bridge. Alas, Tomori has not generated too many stories to that effect — unlike, say, Kurt Zouma — and with David Luiz signing a new contract and both Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen set to stick around for some time, the path to progression isn’t exactly clear. He does have two years left on his Chelsea contract.
Should Derby County achieve promotion, he could certainly return on loan or as a permanent signing, to take the step up to the challenge of the Premier League. But should Derby fail, he probably needs to be looking elsewhere.
And that’s where Celtic come in, at least according to the Mirror (via Daily Record). The Scottish Premier League is very low quality, but Celtic do play in Europe as well. While the last time we sent a player to the Hoops, it didn’t turn out too well, I have no doubt that Tomori would win a place and excel just fine.
But maybe he should be aiming higher?