Rio Ferdinand has credited Fikayo Tomori for choosing to put Chelsea aside and embark on his AC Milan adventure instead.
Speaking on BT Sport after Milan’s mid-week Champions League defeat at Liverpool, Ferdinand said he respects Tomori for having the guts to test himself away from the confines of Cobham.
The Englishman bid farewell to the Blues in January, sent away in unexpected circumstances by Frank Lampard.
Part of Lampard’s original youth revolution, the 23-year-old became old news pretty quickly.
He signed for the Rossoneri on loan and quickly went about resetting his clock.
22 appearances and a goal against Juventus later, Tomori’s value had been restored.
Milan made the centre-back’s move permanent, evidence of how quickly he adapted to life away from home.
Fikayo in flight
“It’s a great adventure for him,” said Ferdinand.
“He wasn’t getting the football he felt or wanted at Chelsea.
“You have to admire the bravery to go abroad, to go play in another league, another country, another culture and he’s hit the ground running. The reports are coming back that he’s doing really well.
“He brings security with pace – he’s very very quick. We saw him match people such as Mo Salah in a one-v-one.
“There are elements of his game he’s still got to learn – and that will come with experience and time.
“For a player to go to Italy, which is renowned for churning out good defenders, it’s a great learning place for him to be.”
Having already held his own in Serie A, Tomori needed to prove he could still handle the Premier League.
Despite Milan’s 3-2 European loss to Liverpool on Wednesday, the former Chelsea gem gave as good as he got.
Confident in possession, assured in the tackle, lightning-quick across the turf, Tomori showed everything an aspiring defender needs in their locker.
Of course, as Ferdinand highlighted, there’s still room for improvement.
But walking the same patch as defensive icons of old will do Tomori the world of good.
Maybe one day he can make Chelsea his playground again. For now, Italy can act as the canvas for his career.