Fikayo Tomori has been undoubtedly AC Milan’s best signing this season. The defender pulled out another great performance on Sunday evening helping the Rossoneri in snatching a dramatic victory against Fiorentina.
Tomori was just as crucial as anyone for the game-winning goal scored by Hakan Calhangolu. It started with the defender recovering a loose ball near the halfway line. He reacted quicker than Erick Pulgar and with a vertical pass over to Brahim Diaz found Fiorentina’s defense badly positioned, setting the stage for the No.10’s goal.
That pass for Diaz was the 12th ball he had win back during the game. No one won more. But rather than how many it’s more important where he regains the ball. Stefano Pioli’s system is built on Tomori’s skill set, as he needs both defenders to defend high in the pitch in order to recollect the ball in dangerous zones.
The 3-0 defeat against Inter exposed the limits of the Simon Kjaer-Alessio Romagnoli partnership, as neither of them had the athleticism necessary to cover wide areas. Since that game, Pioli brought Tomori in and things changed dramatically for the better.
He makes mistakes, take the goal Milan conceded to Manchester United in the first leg of their Europa League clash as an example. But overall, the team play with more confidence.
Tomori loves to defend moving forward and he’s not afraid to leave large portions of the field behind him as he’s fast enough to cover them, as proved for example by his run behind Jordan Veretout against Roma. Furthermore, his speed helps Kjaer too in defending high up the pitch without thinking too much about the consequences.
He also plays with another level of confidence compared to his teammates, something he never showed during his Chelsea tenure. For example, he completed the game with 98 percent accuracy over 46 passes, the majority of which have been for Kjaer, Franck Kessie and Theo Hernandez. He delivered perhaps his best performance since his arrival on loan.
Milan have an option to buy him permanently from Chelsea with the fee reportedly in the region of €28 million. It’s a very high price, as technical director Paolo Maldini confirmed himself, but nowadays it’s hard to find a reliable and young defender like Tomori who, at 23, has already played almost 200 games in professional football at that same price.
There will be negotiations, probably only after the end of the season, but Milan have to do all they can to keep him, especially if a Champions League campaign awaits in 2021/22.