Why Chelsea shouldn’t hesitate to send Fikayo Tomori out on loan
According to claims from French outlet L’Equipe (h/t The Sun), French outfit Rennes have contacted Chelsea over a potential deal for out-of-favour centre-back Fikayo Tomori. As per the report, the nature of the deal remains unclear but a loan move seems more likely than a permanent transfer away from Stamford Bridge for the Blues academy graduate.
It has also been reported that Lampard rates the centre-back after managing him at Derby County and Chelsea but he could be forced to sell him as a part of a defensive reshuffle in West London this summer.
Chelsea’s current defensive scenario
Chelsea romped home to a top-4 finish in the Premier League this season, courtesy of a 2-0 win over Wolves on the final day of the campaign. That remains a big achievement for the Blues, who have had to deal with a transfer embargo amidst a tough transitional period under Frank Lampard.
While Lampard’s brigade mesmerized the fans with some lovely attacking football, scoring 69 goals in 38 league games (the third-highest in the division behind Liverpool and Man City), the Blues ended up conceding as many as 54 goals, which was the worst defensive record in the top ten.
In fact, the last time Chelsea conceded more goals (55) in the Premier League was way back during the 1996-97 campaign, which is a clear indication that Lampard has a lot of defensive issues to sort out heading into the new season.
The manager tried several tactical tweaks, rotating between back-three and back-four systems, while also changing personnel with the hope of stemming the inflow of goals. But nothing seemed to work in favour of the Blues.
Tomori’s rise and fall
Having earned plaudits for his consistent displays on loan for Derby County in the 2018-19 Championship season, Tomori initially established himself as a regular fixture in Chelsea’s backline this past season.
The 22-year-old looked more than capable of stepping up to the challenge of playing at a big club in the Premier League, but things went downhill for him over the Christmas period after Antonio Rudiger returned from a long-term injury.
Tomori started 15 PL games over the course of the 2019-20 season but only one of those came in 2020, with the England international eventually ending the campaign as a glorified benchwarmer at Stamford Bridge.
Loan move – a fair settlement for all parties?
Chelsea have spent a lot of money to bolster their attack with new signings Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech but the Blues are yet to invest in a new defender.
So the defensive scenario at the club remains the same, at least for the time being. If Chelsea look to upgrade their backline in the transfer window, which they are likely to do, then they will surely need to offload one of their existing four senior central defenders.
Make no mistake, conceding 54 goals this season was a collective defensive failure and it would be unfair to use Tomori as a scapegoat for the club’s woes at the back.
However, at the same time, it was clear from Lampard’s team selection in the second half of the campaign that he seems to fancy the likes of Rudiger, Christensen and Kurt Zouma over Tomori, who started only once in the league since the turn of the year.
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Tomori remains an immensely-talented young player with loads of potential but he needs to play regularly to continue his development, which seems unlikely to happen at Chelsea next season.
With that in mind, a loan move to Ligue 1, which is among the top-five leagues in Europe, should serve him well. That wouldn’t be the end of his Chelsea career as we have seen with Zouma over the years. But the Blues shouldn’t make the mistake of offloading him permanently as it could come back to bite them hard.