Tomori discusses ‘missing piece’ Maldini, signings from Chelsea and desire to win trophies

By Oliver Fisher -

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.”

Tags AC Milan Fikayo Tomori


  1. “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, when he’s not there, there’s a missing piece, and no one can replace him. ”

    Don’t say we didn’t tell you so. Everyone with their sideline 2 cents, you heard it from the frontline, the players. No one can replace Maldini. Pioli goes from having the greatest defender of all time guiding his defense line, young players as well experiencing similar pressure aiding him with coaching and one of our greatest strikers in Ibra that helped coached the team as well, without him present, we saw how that ended up, to having to be the sole reference point on top of having to take on new responsibilities as a manager, more than a coach.

    This better be the best decision they ever made or else, it is one they will pay for perpetually.

    Culture and experience, identity, two things that are not bought or replaceable when removed. This lads and coach have their work cut out for them this year. Hope it will be a great season for the squad. Anything less than that will be a disaster for our club.

    1. “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.”

    2. I can also say last season they had Maldini to guide them and they played like sh!t and got 4th place by luck.. They also had Ibra to coach the atk which was unable to unlock a lot of defenses…
      So 2 sides of the same coin, a?

      milan was here before Maldini and Ibra and it will be here after both of them and us depart this world… unless the foking civilisation, as we know it, collapses but thats for another time

      1. Indeed. Even with the help and guidance of Maldini Milan conceded record amount of goals in January.

        Time to move on. The past is past and better focus on today.

      2. Actually, Ibra wasn’t around the team for most of the year, incase you aren’t with the program, they completely changed our entire forward line because we had a RB playing LW and RW during the CL. It was obvious the team lacked skill in our forward positions, we were 4th in the league for chances created, no one could score. We had lack of depth in midfield as well. Our defense were left wide open by them on numerous occasions because our management never replaced our best player at that task and we were starting Krunic most of the year. We had a goalie that couldn’t pass a ball for his life for half the year too. Blaming the defense and lack of goals on Ibra is probably the most incoherent thing to do. Coaches don’t show you how to put balls in the net. It is skill you either have or don’t.

          1. “If your defending Tata then your really clueless hahahahahaha!”

            “Your”… Only a f*cking idiot uses “your” and “you’re” incorrectly.

        1. And who is the one that have authority for transfers? Oh yes your Maldini… He is the one that wasting weeks to chasing CDK rather than replacing your best player…

          1. The authority? He had 50 million euros, when we lost a player valued at 60 to replace, plus Hakan prior, because the people who had authority on top of him refused to give him 1 to 2 million more a season to keep Kessie. 200 k more to Hakan. In fact in wasn’t people, it was a computer program that cane up with those maximum figures, the idiots stood by that instead of a football genius’ decision making capabilities. He offered to stay for the bare minimum a player of his skill could accept, they tried to fiddle with him for 300 K. Maldini would never in his right mind accept to do that. He was a player at one time and would never disrespect his employees that way. Only idiots that never played football at an elite level would dare be so stupid.

            Go check up on Maldini, he won more on his own than everyone left in the club, in the offices down to the coaching staff put together by being one of the best at reading players and the game. No one is in a better position to tell you what a team needs to succeed, especially not at Milan, where his father and sons played as well. Go learn about our club’s history.

            If anyone with a straight face can say anyone in our organization was more knowledgeable than him at football, show me receipts, how many CLs they contributed and titles. If the answer is less than him, STFU kindly.

      3. As usual @flyingturtle you miss the point. Shocking lol. Yes we have moved on just like the players – BUT is there a void without Maldini right now? YES. Heard it from the players mouth directly. Will they move on? of course. Such is life it keeps on moving. We will see what effect, if any, it has. BUT Time heals everything. They will be fine. No need to bash because of your insecurities son. MOVE ON

        1. “No need to bash because of your insecurities son. ”

          😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

          FFS, of all the people in the world it is YOU who wrote this! 😀 😀 😀 The irony… All you ever do here is bash, bash, bash, bash and BASH. Priceless. Absolutely priceless.

      1. Read the article, he said he was important and hasn’t been replaced. We will see if we will move forward or backward when the last whistle of the season blows. We’ll see who will need memos there and then.

        1. I did read the article thanks. Did you read the bit where he says “ He’s a symbol of Milan but we have to move forward.”? i.e. stop saying things like “Don’t say we didn’t tell you so” in July….

  2. “When you think of Milan, you think of Maldini.”
    Exactly this. He’s been through the Sacchi era, Capello era, Ancelotti era. The three most successful eras in Milan’s history. Where Milan is right now and how Milan is perceived in the world has alot to do with him (and B&G ofc). Otherwise we’re just another Lazio or Roma.
    This is what I don’t get. What is it about Maldini that people don’t like or get? He comes with the history whatever role he was going to take. That’s what he adds and brings to Milan. Did ppl not watch Milan prior to 2009 or something? I fail to see how one can’t associate Milan with him and vice versa.

    1. This is what what we don’t get – why you lot don’t get that we don’t hate Maldini. Of course he’s a symbol of the club… he’s the one that turned down anther role though – removing himself from the club completely – so maybe you should be mad at him not us?

      1. Lol I like how u know it was u 🤣🤣🤣
        Even in your response it’s a negative narrative towards Maldini thereby proving the exact point

    2. When i think of Milan i think of red and black and san siro. First player that pops into my head is Kaka, usually..
      Maldini is Maldini but post player i dont really care that much about him. Where was Maldini when berlo and gallian were driving the club into the dark ages?
      Sitting at home

      1. Well that just dates both if us I guess. Kaka is my second though even though I saw Gullit and co but I was super young at the time. Kaka was simply sublime 🤩🤩🤩
        Btw during the banter era and leading up to even the Chinese takeover, Maldini wanted clearly defined roles which he was not getting (it didn’t mean power, alot of ppl mistake the two). He wanted to be responsible for the sporting results, similar to today. But all roles offered didn’t suit him because it was never well defined. Its also more nuanced than that to write here because he wanted to respect his own history as well as his family’s history by taking on a given role at the club. He didn’t want to just be a symbol and jump into something for the sake of jumping in ie to the fans of “where’s Maldini?!”
        Maldini did not want to have certain responsibilities overlapping similar to Galliani (had issues with Barbara as well in that regard). Maldini ended up understudying Leonardo at PSG in the meantime. Sort of taking notes to become a director. So yea, it’s not as simple without the additional context. It’s very easy to blame and it’s very easy to write smut (not saying you) on his name. It has happened before and I’m seeing it happen now. He hasn’t said a word and even when he eventually does I’m sure ppl gonna stick to the narrative that’s built up. Similar to your “sitting at home” comment

        1. I get that he’d want something like Bayern does with their legends.. Have them work in the club in a capacity that matters.
          No way B&G would do that, they were stuck in their ways.
          Did know about the PSG thing tho. where you learned that?

          1. He was obviously building his contacts via Leo at PSG and learning 🤷‍♂️. This was a while aback, I can see if I can track that down.

            Let me make the other point easier. These are Maldini’s own words on having a role at the club during that banter era where he was just “sitting at home”. It’s also why I don’t believe he wanted the power ppl said he wanted. He may have wanted control of an aspect(sporting ) but certainly not unimpeded power.

            “Milan has always been a matter of heart and passion for me,” wrote Maldini, who has been away from the red and black club ever since his retirement in 2009. “My history, my father’s history and my children prove it, and no-one can take this bond with the Rossoneri colors away from us. This very strong link obligates me to be careful, precise and professional in accepting a job I’m offered.

            Of course, it would have been much easier to go along with the excitement of the offer and say ‘yes’, diving headlong into this new adventure without considering the potential consequences but no, I can’t do that. I have to respect the values I have carried with me throughout my life.I have to respect the many fans who, over the years, have identified in me a passion, will and seriousness [the fans have also been eager to see Maldini return]. I have to respect Milan & myself.

            I’d like to clarify certain concepts to the fans and the press, which gathered and reported news that the substance of the matter was the financial aspect, forgetting that I and my family have always felt a sense of belonging to Milan: salary was always a consequence of an agreement, never the cause. This news, among others, has been put forward by ‘anonymous’ sources, across channels and people I’ve known for 30 years, aiming to discredit me as a person to justify the failure to find an agreement.

            I didn’t put forward any financial demands, I reiterated at our first meeting that the definition of my role would be the basic key to any possible collaboration. How could I quantify an offer when the responsibilities hadn’t been clearly set out? I pointed out that I’d give my all to a serious project, but I’d never accept being used as merely a symbol. I repeat, for me Milan is a choice of the heart.

            I never asked for a ‘Galliani role’ or a CEO with full power. I know what my virtues are, but I know my limitations even better – my area of expertise had to be the sporting side. I was offered the role of Technical Director, before [that happened] a sporting director would be hired with the faith of the CEO [Massimiliano Mirabelli] then, according to the organizational chart that was presented to me, I would share any project, purchase or sale of a player with my sporting director peer

            My specific question was about what would happen if we [Mirabelli and I] disagreed, and Fassone told me he would decide. I told him I didn’t think that was the basis for a winning team. I’ve been part of teams which have made football history, and I know that to achieve results there has to be great synergy between all the corporate bodies and major investors, in addition to well-defined roles.

            The last few seasons where Milan have had joint-CEOs [Adriano Galliani for the sporting side and Barbara Berlusconi for the commercial side] and overlapping roles should have been a lesson. Of course, I’d have had to take – in the eyes of the fans, the Press and the ownership – the entire responsibility for the sporting side of things, potentially without having any executive power.

            “I never asked for direct contact with the ownership to bypass the CEO, I just expressed a wish to hear from Mr. David Han Li, Executive Director of Sino-Europe Sports. I only wanted to meet with him for a few minutes, to hear what they expected from me and I wanted to hear in his own voice the goals we’d set ourselves and the investments they planned to make.

            I think it’s a serious request that any professional has the right to speak with his own employer, especially when you look back on a past like mine with the club, the fact of my belonging and credibility. I hope these few lines have clarified my position. The bitterness remains from these days, for a dream which has vanished, leaving behind controversies that I’m certainly not happy about.

            I defend the right of the people in charge of important clubs like Milan to choose their employees based on the criteria they deem appropriate; I’d do the same thing in their position. But I reiterate that my values and my independent thought will always be more important to me than any job.”

            End of quote

      2. Why does a player’s opinion have to be seen as a pro-Maldini statement that must be attacked and debunked by all means necessary?

        Fik is actually right there while we all watch from the sidelines. He has only expressed his opinion as a matured person, rather than try to dodge the question or even make Maldini seem inconsequential, like some will want it to be.

        At the end of the statement, Fik says, “We have to move forward.”

        Asking where was Maldini in Berlusconi/Galliani later run at Milan is rather a retarded question. What was he to do when he was not involved then? Even Barbara Berlusconi had major issues with Galliani. How much more Maldini that was not involved.

        …and to your earlier observation that Milan conceded lots of goals despite Maldini’s input. Again, another not so smart response. Before, this interview, Fik had said how Maldini helped him improve as a defender.

        What happened in January is a result of what some players have previously claimed to be overstretched. They questioned the rigorous training in the middle east. Then there’s no ruling out individual losing concentration. If anyone is to blame, it’s the coach, for not seeing the dip in form and rotating his squad. Thiaw didn’t start to play until their backs were against the wall.

        The fact that Maldini helped some players as a defenders doesn’t mean he has assumed the role of coach. Put the blame where it rightly belongs.

        Again like Fik said, we have to move on. Nobody wants Milan to fail. If anyone is still sentimental about the whole Maldini sacking – it’s okay. They are justify to feel that way. When the results arrive on the field of play, they will get over it. Until then, there’s always bound to be skepticism.

        Forza Milan.

        1. Crips started the whole thing dont go singiling me out now.. I couldnt give a f less who gets sacked, who gets promoted, who gets credit for where Milan is atm..
          I should just stay silent about the whole thing but it got so old when people keep highlighting the postitive and ignoring the negative… And there was the negative, like it or not…
          There is a million reasons why the season went to cr@p. They all share equal blame from cardinale, maldini, pioli to the players. Imao anyway.
          End of the day all i care is that they play good and win. Sometimes just winning is also enough and sometimes just playing good is enough even if they draw or lose

      3. There we go….now it makes sense. These guys are all kids (@flyingturtle, (the racist) @dejan10, (the donkey and the one who wanted to sell Leao for 40M @bb) LOL.

        They have probably only seen Maldini play on YouTube clips. Maldini was sitting at home? LOL. Galliani would never hire him donkey and he didn’t want to work with Li because he knew their funding was shady. Again ZERO facts from you donkey.

        I don’t get the Maldini hate either. Makes no sense. Maldini only helped create this existing team from obscurity to Scudetto winners and UCL semi finalists in a period of 4-5 years on a shoe string budget LOL. He’s gone. Fine. It’s over. Move on. But always bringing him back up and continuing to bash a guy who was a legend of the club and who helped bring us back to relevance because you didn’t like his last transfer window says more about you as a person than Maldini as a director jacka$$es. Grow up and MOVE ON and worry about what players we are going to sign instead

        1. guess you ran out of pills again.. there was a bit of silence from you. Dont think i forgot what you did

        2. People forget that no one wanted to come to Milan..the only literal jewel we had at the time was a 16 year old keeper. how was Milan able to attract talent for cheap or on promise? A Scudetto and a UCL semi are the results of his work whether one agrees or not with how he handles transfers and we all know they’re not going to repeat that feat anytime soon. I don’t get the hate. Instead of saying something positive…Dejan….oh he removed himself completely…as if Maldini fired himself..smh.

          1. i like how in his head he is this mature long time Milan fan and then he goes and acts like us”kids” debunking his own vision of himslef and making a fool of himself as well..
            Afterwards he’ll drop of for a week then come back and make a fool of himself again

          2. “i like how in his head he is this mature long time Milan fan and then he goes and acts like us”kids” ”

            Exactly!! If everyone else is a kid and he’s such an adult and smart, how come it’s always him who starts picking up fights in the most childish imaginable ways. Donkey this, donkey that. I saw him attacking someone claiming the other guy had never even seen Maldini play. Based on the level of his (her?) comments it’s safe to assume that neither has he. 😀

  3. so he’s AC Maldini,
    mm.. is oguchi onyewu still around?
    who is the best USMNT center back right now?
    i need to check him on U’tube..

  4. As long as there is history of Milan that we call the club that won 7champions league ,there is always Maldini in it. Greatest defender to ever play for Milan is Maldini.
    AGAIN there is always Maldini in the history of Milan.

    Much respect to Nesta and baresi but Only Maldini played many different roles with inch perfect performances over 25years as player.
    Only player that has been named as Best defender of all time by all footballing countries.

  5. “Otherwise we’re just another Lazio or Roma.”

    No, sir, not at all.

    Here’s some free history lesson for you: before the advent of Paolo Maldini, Milan had already won two CL and two Cup Winners Cup. That is, something that goes far beyond the achievements of Lazio and Rome COMBINED.

    Therefore, with all the respect that P. Maldini will obviously always deserve, let’s calm down about this delusional idolatry.

    1. You’re saying this like I don’t know or something???

      Im comparing the gradients here between amassing the additional 5 UCLs and 7 Scudetti and languishing in mediocrity like Lazio and Roma. Ur taking it too specific. But if u do want to go there…Milan as ppl know it today is mostly due to Sacchi,. Capello and Ancelotti eras not the 1960s. Point was we’d just have a sputtering of European trophies like those other teams or maybe relying on very distant past like Bologna or grande Torino at least on the domestic side. Or like Forrest and Villa on the European side in keeping with the history lesson.
      Wtf is delusional idolatry???

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