From Frank Lampard’s second choice centre back last season to just one Premier League appearance this season, what went wrong for Fikayo Tomori?
Fikayo Tomori hasn’t started a Premier League game this campaign. In fact in 2020, the 22-year-old has only appeared six times for Chelsea, three of those coming last season, two in the FA Cup and one in the Premier League against Bournemouth where he was hurled off in the 64th minute of the game. The other three coming this season, two in the Carabao cup and one substitute appearance in the league against Liverpool.
The rate at which Tomori has rapidly fallen out of favor under a manager that was so full of praises for him back in September 2019 has come as a huge surprise to majority of the Chelsea fan base having had an impressive start to his Chelsea career last season which eventually earned him his first England cap.
“A lot of people would have seen him [Tomori] as a number four, he’s now number one or two as it stands,” Lampard said back in September 2019.
However, that has all changed for the man that made 55 appearances under Frank Lampard when the duo were together in the Championship at Derby County in the 18/19 campaign, Tomori also picked up Derby County Player of the Season award and Supporters’ Club Player of the Season in that campaign.
At the start of this current campaign, he was constantly linked with loan moves to Everton, Newcastle and Rennes as part of a deal to bring in current Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy after Chelsea brought in the experienced Thiago Silva, leaving Frank Lampard with five centre-backs in his squad. However nothing seemed to materialize until transfer deadline day when David Moyes’ West Ham side offered to take Tomori on loan till the end of season, a move which Tomori turned down in favor of staying to fight for his place. The situation was further complicated when potential transfers out of Stamford Bridge for Antonio Rudiger fell through, Rudiger has since forced his way back into contention and seems established as the third choice centre-back behind Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma and just ahead of Andreas Christensen who seems like fourth choice. Even so, Lampard has expressed his pleasure to still have Tomori among his ranks.
“I think there are arguments on both sides,” Frank Lampard said. “Fikayo is our contracted player. We know that West Ham were interested. Fikayo took the decision not to go and that’s well within his rights.
“That had no bearing on my thoughts at all. He’s still a developing player. When I say developing he’s had a great two years. He got himself in the England team, was one of the best defenders in the Championship and then played 20 plus games for Chelsea.
“It’s normal for a young player sometimes, in a squad as competitive as ours, where you maybe aren’t playing every week. That’s the modern day younger player in these sort of squads and that’s another test for you in terms of how you handle yourself and train and keep working and waiting for your time to come back in.”
The Chelsea boss also added that Tomori’s lack of playing time isn’t personal; also implying his time will come soon.
“I’ve got no problem with Fikayo. I rely on him. That’s clear from when I took him to Derby and how I handled him last year. It remains the same with him. He’s been a fantastic player for me, so I just see this as part of his development.
“He trains very well every day and when he gets his opportunity, like he had when he came on against Liverpool earlier in the season and in the Carabao Cup, it’s important he takes them in the way he has done.”
The season is still in its early stages and the January transfer window is next month, it should be enough time for Tomori to find a club on loan that will give him regular minutes. A loan move is desperately needed as he risks getting lost in the ocean of talent Chelsea have among their ranks and with players like Malang Sarr and Marc Guehi performing brilliantly out on loan with Porto and Swansea respectively.
The Chelsea defence has been brilliant and almost impenetrable this campaign, and breaking into the side is going to be almost impossible. Recent reports suggest Newcastle still have an interest in Tomori and it looks like an ideal destination for him to get his career back on track.
Written by- Sulaiman Olatunde (@King_Quam_Zahir)
Cover photo- goal.com