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AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori returns to Chelsea as England’s center of attention ahead of World Cup squad deadline

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When Fikayo Tomori lands in London, the attention of the entire nation will be on him. It’s not just that this is a champion returning to these shores, returning to a club where he has something to prove. In his absence, the central defender of Milan became famous case from England, the man who can save the Three Lions in Qatar, just as he was the cornerstone of the team that brought the Scudetto back to Milan’s red and black half.

Then no pressure, Fikayo.

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However, the high expectations placed on him seem to be nothing compared to the high standards he sets for himself. When asked why he didn’t get the opportunity to play for England because of his form in the Milan shirt, no one tried to blame anyone but himself.

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“At the start of this season, I don’t think I started it the way I wanted to,” he said in a roundtable interview.

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“It’s a little difficult. You have to try to get into the rhythm and speed of things and I think that applies to me and knowing how I can play and the level that I have set for myself. There were certain, I wouldn’t say games, but maybe moments in games where I knew I could have played better.

“I’m obviously critical of myself and critical of those moments. I think, “Yeah, I probably should have done better.” I’m just that kind of person and I have to try to fix it. I feel like I’m getting back to those levels now.”

This is not an assessment necessarily shared by more seasoned Serie A watchers. For some, the most outspoken criticism they can really offer is that Tomori is not yet as good as last season. It was, of course, a year in which he was a standout player at a young Milan club who held out against more experienced rivals Inter Milan and Napoli to win the title for the first time in 11 years with a record total of points.

This was also the year that Italy fell in love with Tomori. Barely a month went by without the legend of yesteryear not praising the man Milan picked from the bottom of the Chelsea squad. Alessandro Nesta purred at the speed of the 24-year-old. Franco Baresi hailed his personality and strength. Fabio Capello said he is the future of Milan.

While Tomori may think he could have played better this season, he will return to Stamford Bridge a much changed defender from the one who left, honed not only by playing with the best strikers in Europe but also met legends in training. .

“I think I have become more confident in myself. I’ve had more games under my belt so I feel like I’ve gotten better,” he said. “Maybe I’m more focused during games and I’ve learned different aspects of defense and how to be in the team structure, especially how our coach wants us to play. I have improved a lot. In general, I have become more confident and feel more comfortable.

“I think I’m smarter. Staying on the field helps this more, but small fouls or positioning yourself in a way that makes the striker think. Things like that made me a little smarter.”

“Protect different players who are probably more nasty but obviously train with Zlatan. [Ibrahimovic] you can’t be too timid, because if you are timid he will score 10 goals or something in training. You have to be a little tougher, obnoxious in a way.

“Playing against him in training, you get better with the experience he has and the qualities he has, even at his age. When I first came I didn’t really know how he would perform on the training ground, but he was definitely someone you could see playing at a good level against the best in the world because of his self-confidence and his own He not only talks about it, he supports it, and you can see why he’s played at such a high level over the years.”

Ibrahimovic, who is still out after knee surgery, will not take the field to test Chelsea on Wednesday night in the Champions League group stage battle. However, Rafael Leao should be a real test for the Graham Potter side. The Portuguese striker was the most valuable player in Serie A last season with 11 goals and 10 assists. The 23-year-old has made good money (35 million euros to be exact) but is now worth a lot more, he is the archetype of this Milan team. The Blues won’t need to be reminded of his qualities after showing interest in him last summer. Like Tomori, he seems to be on his way to great things.

“When I first arrived… my friends asked me which other player I liked and I kept saying, ‘This guy, Leao, is really good. He is strong, fast and technical.” I don’t think he realized how good he was or could be.

“I think now, especially after last season, he is starting to grow and understand what he is capable of. He understands how he can hurt his opponent and hurt his direct opponent. I think people not only in Milan but now in Serie A and all over Europe are really starting to take notice of him. I think he’s doing amazing for us. He is a match winner for us, creating and scoring goals and lighting the game. He was amazing and hopefully he can continue this on Wednesday.”

Of course, Milan fans who remember the glory days of the 1990s and 2000s are not satisfied with just the Scudetto that Leao, Tomori and company won last season. They are a club with a great pedigree, especially in the European Cup, which they have won eight times, a record only Real Madrid has surpassed. Stefano Pioli’s team cannot be considered favorites for a tournament that hasn’t had an Italian winner for more than a decade. But they top Group E after two games and could make a serious statement with a win in west London.

“For us, we’re just trying to get through game after game,” Tomori said. “Be it Serie A, the Coppa Italia or the Champions League. Obviously, there is a history in the Champions League when Milan won it. Of course, we would like to be a part of this history. There are many good teams in the Champions League. but we approach every game to win every competition. If we continue like this, who knows what might happen?

“Last season, not many people put us in front of winning the Scudetto, but we knew what qualities we have in ourselves. We worked hard, played game after game and eventually won. If we get closer to our league and champions Then who knows where it might take us? I don’t think we can really set a ceiling for ourselves. We know how good we are and we can surprise many teams, I’m sure of it.”

If Milan beat Stamford Bridge, it would increase the pressure not only on Chelsea, who would have one point in the first three games of the group, but also on England manager Gareth Southgate, who left Tomori out of the squad after a draw. with Germany in the League of Nations. . Players such as Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker have admitted to being baffled by the snub at the time Harry Maguire was allowed to play in uniform. Tomori is more optimistic and said Southgate shares Milan head coach Pioli’s view of what he can improve.

“Every player wants to play and you want to be involved, but I’m honored to be selected. Now I know that I’m not quite there, I still have some things to do to get in the frame there for the World Cup, so hopefully I can do it, ”he said. “Meanwhile, I will have many games to try to get into this team or hopefully be in a position where I can also get a few minutes on the pitch.

“[Southgate and I] spoke. It’s different in England because when we have time together it’s very limited. But obviously there are things in Milan where the coach wants me to be in certain positions or do certain things that I have to try and remember what to do on the field and work off the field to become a better player and try to be better in team structure.

“About those things that I talked to Gareth about and he agreed, so I know I have to try to improve those things and from there we’ll see what happens.”

An easy decision for Tomori could be his big tour of Italy and a return to the Premier League. Judging by the assessments of Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham and even Tammy Abraham, it is often assumed that the reason for leaving England is to return to a higher level, but Tomori does not fit this archetype so easily. He quickly settled in Milan and won as much admiration for his command of the language as for his footballing accomplishments. He seems to enjoy inviting his friends over rather than returning to England.

“Honestly, I didn’t think about England, to be honest, or too far in the future, whether I would stay here for the rest of my career or go back to England,” he said. “I just watch game after game, year after year. Right now I have signed a new contract and I think it says how happy I am, how comfortable I am and where I see myself in the next few years. the best league in the world, but for me now, being at Milan and in Serie A, studying to be a defender, I feel comfortable and best for myself. I’m really happy here.”

On October 4 at 19:00 at BOXPARK Wembley Stadium in London, Milan will hold a special fan event “From Milan for many” featuring Rossoneri legends Alessandro Nesta and Daniele Massaro. The event is part of the AC Milan Trophy Tour in partnership with Emirates, an initiative that will see the club take the 2021/22 Scudetto to meet Rossoneri fans.



Source: www.cbssports.com

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