Since he joined on an initial loan deal from Chelsea in January, Fikayo Tomori has been a key player for AC Milan in their success. And this evening, he will start in the heart of the defence in the Rossoneri’s Champions League return.
After the first six months at the club, which went really well, Milan had no doubts about his qualities and redeemed him for a fee of €28m. In today’s market, that’s a very good price for a centre-back, especially one as complete as Tomori.
This evening, he will be important in neutralising the Liverpool attack, teaming up with Simon Kjaer who will be his partner at the back. In a long interview with the Daily Mail, Tomori spoke about life in Milan thus far and what it has been like.
On the history of Milan…
“A club like AC Milan hadn’t been in the Champions League for seven years. The team was in a good position and it went down to the last day, away from home against a strong side like Atalanta. Now, here we are. When you walk into Casa Milan, where the museum is, you see how many titles and trophies they’ve won.
“Here at the training ground, you see photographs of those players lifting the Champions League and the Scudetto. There’s a sense of history everywhere you look. Walk around and you know you are part of a big club. You know you’re in a place drawn to success.”
On his move to the club…
“Everyone made me feel really welcome and happy. I was enjoying my football and felt like I was learning a lot. Most importantly, I was given an opportunity. The club trusted me to be on the pitch and that was so important. Life’s a bit slower and more chilled than in England, more laid back, the kind of life I enjoy. The weather is a lot better. People go for coffee after training, just chill and sit in the sun.”
On learning Italian…
“It’s going well. Italian is the language of the pitch and I can understand everything.”
On defending in Italy…
“I’m trying to learn and improve. England is a very fast league, situations happen fast and you have to react whereas, in Italy, you are luring your opposition into specific positions where you know you can defend it well. That’s a big difference. It wasn’t something I was used to at first.
“Italians are famed for their defenders and defensive structure. It’s definitely coached differently here. It’s about positioning yourself or reading where the ball is going, when to follow the striker, when to let the striker go, knowing if I go here then someone else has to go there, making sure all those cogs work together.
The defender was also asked about the mentality of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been an important leader for the Rossoneri since he returned to the club.
“He’s all about winning. Even in foot-golf, he’s telling us, ‘we can’t lose, we can’t lose’ and we ended up winning. Whether we’re playing mini-games or 11-v-11 in training, or it’s a quick game of handball before training, he wants to win and when he does win, he lets everyone know about it. I think that spurs him on and the people around him.
“You don’t want to be on Zlatan’s team and not pull your weight because if you don’t there’s going to be trouble. He’s such a big personality and his presence raises everyone’s game. He’s a winner and it transfers to the rest of the team,” he concluded.