Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori has admitted he was flattered by praise from AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini, following his fine start to life on loan at the San Siro.
The 23-year-old broke into the Blues first-team last season, following an impressive year on loan at Derby under Frank Lampard and went on to make 15 Premier League appearances in his first full campaign in the top-flight.
The England international was expected to kick on again this term, yet made just one league appearance in the first-half of the season after seemingly falling out of favour.
That lack of game time saw him jump at the chance to join Serie A side Milan in January, the centre-back moving to Italy on a temporary deal until the end of the season, albeit with an option to buy for the Rossoneri.
The Chelsea youth product has settled quickly in his new surroundings, making eight appearances across all competitions thus far and earning praise from club legend and current technical director, Paolo Maldini, for his immediate impact.
The Italian – who made 902 appearances for the club over a 25-year career – was full of praise for the ‘hard-working’ Tomori, as well as insisting that the club remains an attractive destination for potential signings, despite their struggles over the last decade.
“Fikayo is a player with interesting qualities,” Maldini said.
“He is quick, hard-working and was someone we were following closely with January in mind. The deal contains an option to sign him from Chelsea. I’m lucky to work in a club where if a player knows we want them, it makes an impact.
“We might not have won anything at European level for 14 years, but Milan is still a historic club.”
While the young Englishman was no doubt delighted with Maldini’s comments, he revealed that he’s just focusing on the next months, rather than thinking about a potential permanent stay in Milan.
“It’s a good feeling and to hear something like this obviously gives me confidence, but I just want to carry on doing what I’m doing that’s got me to this stage and go even further,” Tomori said at a pre-match press conference ahead of Thursday’s game with Manchester United.
“I’m not really focused too much on what can happen in the future, it’s just more about me playing well for the team and doing what I can for myself right now and helping the team as much as possible. Then what happens in the future will happen, but obviously it’s very nice to hear that from one, if not the, greatest defenders to have played the game.”
Since Tomori’s departure from Stamford Bridge there has been a change in manager, with Thomas Tuchel taking the reigns, although the loanee didn’t appear concerned about what impact that could have on his Chelsea future.
“It’s nothing that I’m worried about or anything like that, I’m focused on what’s happening here and I’m sure that he’s doing the same at Chelsea.”