How Fikayo Tomori’s development was shaped by spells in the second tier

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori is in his second season in Italy now and the 23-year-old continues to develop into an important player for Rossoneri. He has now played 31 times for the club and is one of the reasons Milan have made a strong start to their 2021/22 Serie A campaign.

Tomori, like many other upcoming players in England, had various loan spells in the Championship (the second tier of English football). Here is a look at how those transfers helped him to become accustomed to senior football.

Brighton & Hove Albion

The Englishman’s first loan move from Chelsea was at Brighton & Hove Albion. The Seagulls are now in the Premier League but in 2017 they were vying for promotion from the Championship. He played 10 games for the south coast club, which was a real eye-opener for him when it came to senior football.

Tomori made plenty of mistakes for the Seagulls, including scoring an own goal against Lincoln City in a FA Cup defeat on his debut. It was his first real spell in senior football as, prior to that move, he had only played once for Chelsea’s senior team, and that was the final game of the 2015/16 Premier League season in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City.

Hull City

In the summer of 2017, Tomori went out on a season-long loan move to Hull City. He played a total of 26 games for the Tigers, by far his longest spell of senior football at the time. This was a really important period in his career as playing most weeks meant he was able to get into a good flow on the pitch.

It was a tough season for Tomori and Hull as they were fighting off relegation for the majority of the campaign. They eventually finished 8th in the standings, which was enough for them to remain in the Championship.

Derby County

In 2018, Tomori got the chance to play for Chelsea legend Frank Lampard who had just signed up to be Derby’s new manager. It was a very good year for the English defender as he was named the club’s Player of the Year at the end of the season.

Derby is a club that has a reputation for helping up-and-coming players improve when they go out on loan there. This season, they are really struggling at the wrong end of the table due to a 12-point deduction, though, so they are set for a tough campaign according to the Championship predictions. Most pundits expect them to drop down to League One. Despite their struggles, manager Wayne Rooney is still trying to play attractive football.

During his spell at Pride Park, Tomori fitted into the team extremely early. The club finished the season in sixth place, which saw them qualify into the play-offs. They defeated Leeds United in the semi-final but missed out on promotion as they lost to Aston Villa in the final.

Those loan moves have really helped ensure Tomori is at the level he is today. Milan are now benefiting from the experience he received at a strong level of football. His job now will be to help bring silverware back to the Rossoneri.

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