Chelsea have an amazing amount of talent out on loan this season, with the likes of Reece James, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount all shining in the Championship. One loanee that is only just getting the recognition he deserves is Fikayo Tomori.
The young centre back is on loan at Frank Lampard’s Derby County and along with fellow loanees, Harry Wilson and Mason Mount, has been a key part of their promotion push which sees them in 6th place at the time of writing. He’s been so good in fact that he won the club’s Player of the Season award, after some commanding displays at the back, alongside veteran defender Richard Keogh.
I’ve managed to see Tomori play live this season when I went to Stamford Bridge for the Carabao Cup fixture between Chelsea and Derby. Although unlucky to score an own goal in the game, there was nothing unlucky about his performance as he put in a determined display in front of a Chelsea crowd, both willing him to do well but not too well so that we wouldn’t win. It’s that type of commanding performance that has seen him become a fan favourite at Pride Park, with the defender even having his own chant created by the Derby faithful.
Establishing himself as a CB
Fikayo Tomori has always been a player with a love for defending and his performances in Chelsea’s academy earned him the Player of the Year award there. Like many young players, he is very versatile, and has made appearances at both centre back and right back in his previous loan spells with Brighton and Hull City.
This season at Derby has seen him become part of the club’s first choice CB pairing, with Tomori getting a consistent run of games, to the point where only his defensive partner, Keogh, has played more than him this season within Derby’s squad. The regularity at which he has played has seen him improve massively as a player, as he uses his pace and tackling ability to his advantage, similar to a young Kurt Zouma.
His reading of the game has improved greatly over the course of the season and he’s also popped up with some key goals from defence, which is a great attribute to have in a centre back. Tomori is a very forward thinking defender, who looks to pass up the pitch when he can, and his calmness on the ball allows him to do that effectively. He’s got everything you could want in a young CB, although he’s got much more room to grow.
His manager, Frank Lampard, has been full of praise for him as he spoke to Rams TV earlier this month.
His progression this year has been incredible. From when he came in, he was a good young player anyway, but you can see how pivotal he has been in our team. He has grown from within and I’ve enjoyed working with him day to day.
He wants to learn and improve his game but all the attributes he has, he is using them. There is still a lot more steps in him to go but he was incredible on Saturday against Rotherham.
He performed from the first minute until the last and when he plays like that, it’s scary to think how good he can be. He can go to the top if he plays like he did on Saturday and can get better.
I’ve always said with loans that it is a two-way street. They do well for us, hopefully we do well for them, and they go back to their clubs improved. It is satisfaction because, like most of the young players, they are sponges, they want to learn, they are hungry and do well at this club.
If you watch the way Tomori celebrates every goal; he sprints up the field and celebrates with everyone and he feels it. That is what the fans want to see and that’s what makes players to have the capabilities to be top players because it comes from that hunger within.
We have huge satisfaction with how he has progressed and he needs to keep it going for the last couple of games.”
What next for Tomori?
Fikayo Tomori is very clearly a talented and dedicated young player, who wants to improve every day on the training pitch and in games. His passion and will to succeed, along with his abilities as a defender, gives him all that he needs to go on to have a very successful career in football. Frank Lampard is certainly under no illusions that he could go right to the top of the game.
His immediate future lies with another loan in my opinion, potentially with Derby if they get promoted next year. He’s certainly ready for a crack at English football’s top league. I could also see him doing very well at somewhere like Everton, taking over from Zouma, who I hope we’ll be seeing in a Chelsea shirt next season.
However, if Chelsea do in fact choose to include Tomori in their squad for next season, he’d be more than up to the task and would definitely relish the challenge. One thing is certain. If he continues to progress at the rate he is now, we’ll be seeing a lot more of him at Stamford Bridge in the near future.