focus25 January 2021

FIKAYO TOMORI: OUR PLAYER IN FOCUS

Learn more about the Rossoneri’s latest acquisition, as we look at his career and technical characteristics

Born in Canada to Nigerian parents and now a naturalised Englishman, Oluwafikayomi Oluwadamilola "Fikayo" Tomori has arrived to bolster the AC Milan defence: he is the Rossoneri's third reinforcement of this winter transfer window after the arrivals of Soualiho Meïte and Mario Mandžukić. He is a young centre-back (he turned 23 on 19 December) but already has experience at a high level in the Champions League and with the England national team. Fikayo joins the Club on loan - with an option to buy - from Chelsea until the end of the season.

TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS
He is mainly a central defender, but can play at right-back, and is blessed with plenty of strength and aggression at the heart of the backline. Tall (185 cm) and stocky (79 kg), he is adept at reading the game and timing his tackles, interceptions and duels. His physical and athletic capabilities mean he is great in the air and his speed causes him to be great in recovery - a suitable back-up and an undoubtedly good alternative in the heart of the defence for Stefano Pioli.

CLUB CAREER
Fikayo's story began at Chelsea, where he has been since a very young age and with whom he won two consecutive UEFA Youth League titles in 2015 and 2016. The Calgary-born player was a key figure at the back for the Blues and even scored in the final of the competition in 2016 against Paris Saint-Germain; this goal preceded, by a few weeks, his first team debut in the Premier League, which came on the last day of the season against champions Leicester City. He spent the following campaign on loan at then-Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion (ten appearances), but it wasn't until 2017/18 that Tomori would start to play regular first team football. He joined Hull City on loan from the Blues, making 26 appearances for the Tigers in the Championship. After these two introductory seasons to men's football, Fikayo's career really took off in his third full campaign. In 2018/19, he joined Derby County on loan in a very good season for the Club as the Rams almost secured promotion to the Premier League, narrowly losing to Aston Villa in the Playoff final. That year, he was ever-present in Frank Lampard's defence, making 55 appearances and scoring twice and even picking up the fans' Player of the Year award. The former Blues midfielder, therefore, kept him around from the start of his stint at Chelsea as Tomori was used as back-up for the first team after three loan spells away from the club. He didn't have to wait long for his first Premier League start (in August against Sheffield United), his first Chelsea goal (against Wolves in September) or his Champions League debut (against Valencia in September). For months, Tomori was a starter in the Chelsea backline as the West London club climbed into the top four. He then saw his game time limited through injury and then struggled to break back into a Chelsea backline with a lot of competition for spaces. Now, he has a chance at AC Milan to find consistent game time and put himself to the test in a new context.

INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL
He was eligible to represent three different countries and Tomori did represent Canada at Under-20 levels in three friendlies in 2016, before settling on England. His first call-up to an England age group squad came the day after his Premier League debut with Chelsea. The peak of his career at international youth level was in 2017 when Tomori was an immovable stalwart as the Three Lions won the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea, beating Venezuela in the final to win England's first international title since the 1966 World Cup. A few months after the Under-21 Euros in Italy in June 2019, Fikayo was called up to the first team for the very first time and made his debut in Pristina as England beat Kosovo in Euro 2020 qualification.


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