For all his success, unprecedented in the modern era, in integrating our own Academy graduates, and instituting a paradigm shift in our youth development that’s been felt ever since, the one blot in former manager Frank Lampard’s copybook in that regard was Fikayo Tomori.
The now 24-year-old center back fell out of favor without any obvious or specific reason as the pandemic year of 2020 trudged along, opting to join AC Milan in January 2021, initially on loan, and then in a permanent transfer at the end of that season. All he’s done since is become a key player for the Italian champions, making the £25m that Milan paid to make that happen (without a buyback, even), an absolute bargain.
Now eyeing an England spot for the World Cup as well, Tomori returns to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday for the first time since leaving, with extra motivation and a point to prove — and help keep Milan at the top of the group (and Chelsea at the bottom) in the process.
“Every footballer, when you get on the pitch, there’s a point to prove. Obviously coming from Chelsea and being English, there’s probably that added motivation.
“I guess you could say that maybe I’ve played differently [at AC Milan] or whatever it is. [The year] 2020 was difficult, not just for me, obviously there was Covid so it was difficult for everyone. I was just itching to get back on the pitch, itching to be playing, and Milan gave me an opportunity and now I’m here.
“It’s just another chance for me to see some familiar faces as well as to, I guess, show how I’ve developed. I know people have watched the Milan games but going back to Stamford Bridge where it all kind of started, it’s another chance to show myself again.”
-Fikayo Tomori; source: BBC
We see you, Fik. We’ve always seen you.