Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori has jetted back to England, but it’s only for a day or so as AC Milan take on Manchester United tonight at Old Trafford in the first leg of their Round of 16 Europa League tie.
Whether a similar return trip, but this time to London at the end of the season is on the cards is anyone’s guess, but it’s not something that’s preoccupying the 23-year-old center back. That is to be expected; primary focus should always be on the here and now.
That of course won’t ever stop journalists from asking the banally obvious, which is precisely what they did as Tomori faced the press in the pre-match press conference.
“I want to continue doing what I am doing, playing for the team and for my teammates. We’ll see what happens in the future.”
“I still need to adapt to certain things, I was worried about the language barrier, but there are players who speak English and I am trying to learn Italian, even if it’s difficult. I am happy and I want to give the best for this team. I want to raise the level...”
“I often talk with my former teammates at Chelsea, who are also great friends. They feel well and are satisfied. I haven’t spoken to Tuchel yet, but he must remain focused on Chelsea as I have to think about Milan.”
-Fikayo Tomori; source: Football-Italia
Tomori has impressed as nearly every turn thus far in Milan, and the expectation is that the Rossoneri will find a way to cough up the cash needed to exercise the €28m buy-option built into the loan. Milan director and absolute legend Paolo Maldini has spoken repeatedly of such intentions, and while that won’t necessarily guarantee anything, it does give Tomori an extra boost of confidence as he tries to adapt to life and football in Italy.
“Obviously it is very nice to hear these things, especially from a legend like Maldini. This gives me a lot of confidence. [...] Hearing these words from a great defender is certainly beautiful.”
“I was worried about the language but there are those who speak to me in English and I try to speak in Italian and slowly we are getting along well. [...] Every person here at Milanello has helped me a lot both with the language and off the pitch.”
“Italy is different from England, the weather is good and the food is better.”
And of course, more importantly than any food or weather, the minutes are good as well. He’s played almost three times as many minutes already in his month and a half in Italy than he did the entire first-half of the season in England. In fact, he’s played more minutes for AC Milan, 635, than he did for Chelsea in the entirety of the 2020 calendar year, 469.
Tomori’s fall down the pecking order and all the way completely out of the first-team reckoning remains one of the bigger inexplicable mysteries of Frank Lampard’s time in charge. The damage done may be too great, but until the ink is dry on the contract, we can continue to hope for a return.