The rise and rise of Fikayo Tomori has been one of the major talking points at Chelsea in recent weeks, and boss Frank Lampard has given a detailed explanation of what makes the young defender so impressive.
Tomori only made his full debut for us in the draw against Sheffield United at the end of August, but since then his stock has soared. It started with a fine performance against the Blades, and continued when he netted his maiden Blues strike in stunning fashion away to Wolves a fortnight later.
Then came a superb lockdown of Liverpool’s Mo Salah at the Bridge, and earlier this week Tomori shone in Lille. A wonderful few weeks was capped off on Thursday when the 21-year-old was named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the very first time, something Lampard spoke about yesterday. The boss has provided further detail on Tomori’s character, and how it has developed since he first got to know him at Pride Park.
‘He’s quite quiet with me, but not quiet when they’re all together and you look from a distance!’ said Lampard.
‘He’s definitely got personality. That grew last year at Derby. He became very popular in the dressing room, and popular with the fans for his performances.
‘The progression is huge, but the main thing I saw in him was work ethic. He quietly goes about his business. He trains hard. Everything you ask him to do, he tries to do it and more. Physically he’s great, we know that. He’s one of those when you’re doing sprinting or running, or heavy running early season, you can see every day he’s nailed, he does the job.
‘When you want to do a particular training session, something quite simple but which takes a bit of focus, he’s focused and ready to go. That has shown in his performances since he stepped into the team. I put trust him early in the season, and at the moment he’s really delivered. Long may that continue, because there is more to come from him.’
Lampard admitted that while he was clearly well aware of Tomori’s ability from their season at Derby together, he could not be sure how he would get on in the Premier League until he put him in the team.
‘Sheffield United at home was a game I thought he deserved the opportunity after how he trained,’ revealed Lampard.
‘That’s a great message to all the players. How you train will relate to whether you get picked. Those are the rules here. You have to train at a level, and he trained so well over a period of time he deserved to play.
‘He gave me a big problem because he played so well and he’s continued to do that. He is a project in a way but a nice one because everything you want him to do, he stands up and delivers.
‘There was a moment at Lille the other day when he makes a bit of a mishap, thankfully Kepa saved it for him, and those are things he will want to get out of his game. That will come with maturity and the focus he’s showing now. Other than that he’s putting in really good performances.
‘He played so well against Liverpool and Mo Salah, and against really quick Lille strikers in a tough European away game. Now I want him to push straight on like he did against Brighton, and like he hopefully will against Southampton and games going forward. Those are the standards and the consistency levels which will be the tester. That’s what I mean about application.’