Lampard explains how Nigerian became a central figure in Chelsea
The Blues defender has taken his chance under his new manager and it has earned him a first senior international call-up
Frank Lampard admits that Fikayo Tomori has been his pet project but he says that his consistency has helped keep him in the Chelsea team after being on the fringes in pre-season.
Chelsea considered sending Tomori on loan during the summer transfer window, with Everton among the clubs interested, but Lampard opted to keep him and to sell David Luiz to Arsenal.
Tomori was expected to be the fourth choice centre-back at Stamford Bridge this season as he played less than Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma in pre-season.
However, his good form since coming in against Sheffield United on August 31 has made him an important figure at Stamford Bridge, leading to Gareth Southgate calling him up for England’s upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Lampard, who managed Tomori last season while the defender was on loan at Derby County, spoke about the 21-year-old ahead of Chelsea’s game against Southampton on Sunday.
Tomori played in a back three against Lille in midweek but he has looked equally assured in a back four as Lampard continually alters Chelsea’s formation.
Chelsea’s modest success this season has come as Lampard uses a host of young English players from the club’s academy. Lampard has enjoyed picking English players like Tomori, alongside his fellow academy graduates Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham.
Lampard insisted though that he is just as happy to see young foreign players make it at Chelsea as long as they carry the same love for the club that developed them.
“Well, there are two things. One, I really like it, yes, an affiliation and the academy, and the fans love it,” he continued. “I do like that side of it.