AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori has spoken about the upcoming season ahead as well as the pressure to win and the exit of Paolo Maldini as technical director.
Tomori spoke during an interview with Sky Italia from Milanello that was aired today, and he began by revealing how he feels a few weeks before the first game of the new campaign against Bologna away.
“We are happy, excited. I am excited for my third season, my position is as a leader, someone who talks a lot on and off the field. I have been here for three years and I’m almost a veteran,” he said (via MilanNews).
Last season was a mixed one for Milan as they got to the final four of the Champions League but lost to Inter, while they failed to capture any silverware domestically after the Scudetto in 2021-22.
“I feel the responsibility [to win], but like all my team-mates we want to win. Last year in January we had 3-4 games that changed the season. We want to win, it’s the first team goal team and this group.”
Stefano Pioli is approaching arguably his most important season as head coach and with more responsibility comes more pressure, something Tomori acknowledged.
“It will be more difficult than in previous years. We are trying to do something different, as the coach wants. We are proud to play for Milan and we want to demonstrate it on the pitch. This year we hope to have a season to remember.”
Less than 48 hours after that win against Verona, it was confirmed that Maldini and his right-hand man Ricky Massara were being relieved of their duties as the technical and sporting director, plunging the project into disrepute.
“When you think of Milan, you think of Maldini. When I arrived here I saw him every day at Milanello. There’s respect because I’m a defender and I want to play at as high a level as possible, he gave me advice,” Tomori said.
“When he’s not there, there’s a missing piece, and no one can replace him. The club has changed, but we are focused on the pitch and we don’t have this symbol of Maldini, but I know very well that he will watch the games. He’s a symbol of Milan but we have to move forward.”
Finally, the Englishman spoke about how big a campaign it will be for Rafael Leao as his growth continues, while he discussed reuniting with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Christian Pulisic who he knows from Chelsea.
“He’s [Leao] already very strong, but he can be even stronger. Years ago, when I arrived at Milan, I said that there was a player that was different from all of them, that was Rafa,” he said.
“He has it all: shooting, assists, quality, power. He knows he needs to be even more attentive and focused during the warm-ups, I control him with my eyes. It’s very important for us.
“If I had a pound I’d bet it on Loftus-Cheek, he’s my friend, I’m his translator, I spoke to him before signing and I’m sure of his quality. Pulisic is strong, fast and will score goals. He’s different from the players we have right now. I’m happy for them and for us.”