Legend has it that Fikayo Tomori told West Ham where they can stuff their loan offer just ten minutes before the 11pm deadline on Transfer Deadline Day a couple weeks ago, evidently trading the prospect of easier minutes (in the wrong color shirt) for the challenge of trying to win his place back in the right one.
Guesting on the latest episode of Chelsea’s official podcast, Mike’d Up, the one-time Chelsea Academy Player opened up a decision he had to make rather quickly and suddenly. (Presumably as Antonio Rüdiger’s departure wasn’t materializing as expected.)
“For me it was very much a [situation where] I wanted everything to be thought out. In the weeks leading up to the season, in the short pre-season we had, I was talking a lot with my agent and the club, trying to clarify [the situation] and get some clarity on what was going on. Personally, I’d prefer if a transfer wasn’t last-minute. But it does happen when you have to make a decision quickly, and this was one of those. And I made the decision to stay.”
After Chelsea signed Thiago Silva (of whom Tomori speaks with great respect), it looked like Tomori was going to be the odd man out from the center back group. Then Rüdiger emerged as the one surplus to requirements, but in his case, too, the timeline turned out to be too short for any drastic decisions to be made. Transfer Deadline Day may make for good television and online drama, but not necessarily for good career choices.
For Tomori, the decision came down to staying with the plan or making a panic move.
“I had a plan going into this season, off the back of last season [though] obviously, in football things change so quickly. I wanted to make sure that whatever decision I made was really thought out, and try to do what’s best for me [...] In the end, I made the decision to stay, to improve more and try to get in the team [and] back to the levels I was at last season.”
Tomori was similarly close to leaving on loan last summer, but emerged as one of the best options for Frank Lampard, especially in the first half of the season. He fell out of favor after the new year unfortunately, but there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t be able to push for minutes once again — especially as this is now his third season working with the head coach, including their season together at Derby County in 2018-19.
The challenge this season may be tougher, but the rewards could be even greater!
“There is a big squad here and it is definitely a competitive squad, more competitive than last year. I’m sure the manager’s looking forward to working with every single player [as] we look to close the gap to the top of the table.”
-Fikayo Tomori; source: Chelsea Mike’d Up Podcast
Be sure to check out the rest of the episode to also hear Fikayo talk about coming up through the Academy, his first Premier League goal (which won Chelsea Goal of the Season), his decision to go with England rather than Canada at the international level, and that one time he (inadvertently) broke Diego Costa’s nose.
And also much much more, including a great interview with Emma Hayes!