18 Feb 2021

AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori on Euro 2021 ambitions and what he’s learned from Zlatan

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AC Milan’s new signing Fikayo Tomori has opened up about his first few weeks at the club – including what it’s like to be in the presence of star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The 23-year-old joined the Rossoneri in January on a deal until the end of the season, giving coach Stefano Pioli another excellent option in defence.

Tomori has already adapted well to football in Serie A, contributing to Milan’s title charge by starring in victories over Bologna and Crotone.

And the English defender is keen to continue making a good impression.

He said: “Coming here, I wasn't trying to just be one of the numbers, I want to be part of the title challenge and I want to play as many games as I can. I want to improve and help the team as much as I can.”

Tomori is no stranger to playing with talented stars after joining from Chelsea.

However, he has admitted that the opportunity of being able to train and play alongside someone of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s calibre is “a privilege” like no other.

Tomori said: “He (Zlatan) has been a world class striker for 10, 15 years. To be able to defend against someone like him and to have him on your team is a privilege. You can see why he's got to the level he has.

“The way that he carries himself, the pressure that he puts on himself, and the demand he puts on other teammates to do well and to be at the top of their game.

“He's great. I'm sure that throughout the season, training against him and seeing what he does against me as a defender, I can definitely learn some things.”

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Tomori’s decision to join Milan was easy, he says, and he hopes that the chance of playing regularly at one of the biggest clubs in the world could open the door for a return to the England national team.

After making his senior debut in 2019, Tomori hasn’t since had the chance to repeat the honour of representing his country – though he’s confident his spell at Milan can put him in contention for Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2021 squad.

He said: “As much as I am playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world, if I am not performing well then I won't get selected for England.

“I think that coming from a place where I can play games – and those games are for AC Milan – could give me a boost. I think it's just about me getting on the pitch, making sure that I'm being seen, and making sure that I am performing to a high level so that I can give myself the best chance to be in the squad.”

The deal for Tomori, helped along by a call from Milan Technical Director Paolo Maldini, includes the option to buy the Chelsea defender at the end of the season.

Though the club’s new number 23 hasn’t thought that far ahead yet.

He said: “I think that in a situation like this, I just have to be focused on myself and focused on trying to do what I can. I'm sure that if I come here and I play well, then the future will sort itself out. But at this point in time, I'm focused on Milan.

“I’ve been focused on playing games, doing my best for the team and showing myself to everyone and how good I am.”

The defender’s arrival in Milan coincided with the appointment of Thomas Tuchel as Chelsea manager and the departure of Frank Lampard, who has spoken highly about Tomori’s potential saying he’s destined to be a “top player”.

“I'm grateful for what Frank Lampard said. I think that I have a long way to go until I can achieve that,” said Tomori, who also played under Lampard at Derby County.

“Tuchel definitely has a big job at Chelsea. I think that they've done really well so far and that the players have a new voice, a new lease of life and they're close to the top four places. They're doing really well and I'm sure that they'll have a successful season.”

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