Push Notification
Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

Fikayo Tomori: Why the AC Milan defender should start for England at the World Cup – scout report

With the World Cup just weeks away, the focus is turning towards the national team selection. Fikayo Tomori is a player who is regularly being called up to the England squad. Since his move away from England, Tomori has racked up over 60 appearances in all competitions for Italian giants AC Milan.

Tomori has featured in the UEFA Champions League and last season he won Serie A, making 31 league appearances. The question on a lot of England fans’ lips is; should Tomori start for England?

Many people are aware of his fantastic achievements in Italy and therefore argue that the centre-back should play. Others are unsure of his ability because he plays his football away from the Premier League.

In this scout report, we will provide a tactical analysis of Fikayo Tomori and give a clear analysis of how he plays within AC Milan’s tactics.

Player profile

Fikayo Tomori plays as a centre-back and during his time at AC Milan, he has been used as a left-sided centre-back in a 4-2-3-1 formation. By playing on the left side, his ‘weaker’ left foot has now become much stronger and Tomori is comfortable using it.

During his time at Chelsea, he occasionally played in a back three. Again, he featured on the left side of this setup. Tomori’s heatmap below shows the positions he has taken up across the season so far.

Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

The heatmap brings no real surprises and is mostly as you would expect for a centre-back playing in a defensive back four. The wide channel is occupied well and he covers a lot of the central area. AC Milan liked to play a higher line than most, giving Tomori a more dense central area.

The Milan defender stands at 6’1” tall and weighs 79kg making him a good defensive unit. Being tall and physical allows him to be combative in duels.

The data

The data below shows Tomori’s percentile ranking compared to other left centre-backs in the Serie A, this season.

Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

Attacking data

The attacking data, coloured pink, is not going to excite you when you delve into it. For three of the four categories, Tomori ranks near the bottom. This does need to be taken into context which is that Tomori does not have much license to roam forward as much as other centre-backs do. For instance, if they play in a back three then more attacking opportunities may fall their way.

However, one area which can be looked at positively is the dribbles per 90. For a centre-back in a back four, Tomori does excel in his dribbles. His style of play and role allows him to take the ball forwards positively into space. This will be covered in more detail later on.

Possession data

The possession data, coloured yellow, provides a better insight into Tomori as a footballer. His highest percentile rank comes in passes per 90. This rank could be down to Milan having the fourth-highest possession with 54.2%. However, he does still rank above average for accurate passes showing he is putting them to good use.

Furthermore, his ranking for received passes is also above average, showing he is not afraid to receive the ball. Tomori is often an option when Milan are building up. Not only this, Tomori is great with the ball at his feet. He looks to play forwards as much as he can. His 66th percentile rank for progressive passes per 90 shows how he implements this into his game.

Defending data

The white section of the chart represents the defensive percentile ranks. At a glance, it would seem to be a worrying statistic but once looked into, it shows its worth. As mentioned, Milan are one of the best at keeping possession. They dominate the ball. Therefore, this means that, defensively, Tomori will have less to do as his side has possession more than other teams.

Due to this, he ranks low in defensive duels per 90 and aerial duels per 90. But it is not to be worried about as he doesn’t get as much opportunity to defend as others in the league. The area that does matter for Tomori’s data is the defensive duels won and aerial duels won. Both these areas show how much success Tomori has when defending. He ranks relatively close to average in both areas, showing room for improvement.

Defensive ability

Leading on from the defensive data, let’s take a look at how Tomori defends. Below is his defensive territory map for the season so far. He covers a lot of the defensive half and makes good interceptions in central areas. He has made good progress in the way that he defends. Tomori has a very aggressive style, hence the red dots, and likes to win the ball back from opponents.

Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

Tomori loves to be close and tight to his opponent. He often wins the ball back when his opponent takes a touch by using his long legs to reach around the side and poke the ball away.

His aggressive nature needs to be managed and developing a good relationship with fellow defenders is important. This is because Tomori loves to step out of the defensive line to try and regain possession. Below is an example of this. By doing this, he often leaves a big space behind him, therefore, leaving his teammates exposed.

Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

His teammates need to be aware of this so that they can cover his position, otherwise, he will be exposed. An example of this is below, where Tomori is just too slow and his opponent is able to take a touch before he can engage in defensive action.

This leads to the attacker playing the first-time ball into the space which Tomori has vacated, leading to a dangerous attack. If his teammates are not aware of this style of play, then issues could arise.

Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

For England, Tomori would be potentially played in a back three. The aggressive nature may work well in this system as there are more defenders closer to him allowing for this action to take place with a lower risk.

As shown by his defensive territory map, Tomori does make good interceptions. As all defenders should do, he is able to anticipate the next pass and quickly step in to win the ball back. His build allows for him to reach and get a foot in despite being a few yards away whilst the pass is being played. His reactions and anticipation aid this Milan side who can look to regain the ball quickly.

Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

Furthermore, as a team who plays a high line, Tomori can often become exposed to a 1 versus 1 situation. He must manage these well and the areas of the pitch they take place usually favour the defender. Tomori often finds himself in a 1 versus 1 encounter in the wide channels. Usually, they take place when the fullback is out of position, following a transition.

Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

In the image above, Tomori gets across quickly and closes down the distance between himself and the opponent. He shows him down the line which is the correct thing to do. However, as he approaches, he is too aggressive and tries to win the ball. The opponent skips past him and into space.

A common theme in the defender’s 1 versus 1 approach is that he tries to win the ball back instantly. Most of the time, this leads to him not winning the ball back.

One area of his game that he excels at is his covering ability. Playing in a back four means you must be able to cover all areas of the defensive line. Tomori is fantastic at reading the situation and getting across quickly to stop the danger.

His impressive pace aids his covering ability massively, something which brings good value and allows AC Milan to play their high defensive line. He is able to stop attacks early on before more of a threat.

Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

As the pass is being played, he is already running and is quickly going to reach the ball which has been played in behind the fullback. In this specific scenario, Tomori is covering for the right back meaning he has spotted the potential danger even when being slightly out of position on the right side of the defence,

On the ball ability 

With his team in possession, Tomori is able to offer himself as an option and is comfortable playing short and long passes on both his left and right foot. This makes him perfect in central defence whilst Milan are building up attacks. His ability to play from both feet means that the passage of play isn’t slowed down whilst he readjusts himself.

He plays some good long balls, mainly into frontman Olivier Giroud. On average Tomori plays 5 long balls per 90 with just over 50% being accurate. Below is an example of where he plays a brilliant long ball into his striker.

Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

By being aware of situations like the one above, he is able to choose the right time to pass the ball and progress the play. It is essential and useful to have this ability, especially when trying to break down a low block.

Perhaps his best quality is his dribbling ability. As highlighted in the data, he ranks relatively high for dribbles per 90. These dribbles arent ‘mazey’ runs past players but they are very direct and impactful. Below is an image where Tomori chooses to dribble with the ball.

Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan 2022/23 - scout report

The ability to drive with the ball into the opposition’s midfield is useful as it can lead to numerical overloads in central areas. This can then lead to more chances being created. In the example above, Tomori drives forwards before playing a pass into the striker’s feet, moving his team up the pitch.

In the back three of England, there is a lot more opportunity to do this. Something that England star Harry Maguire does so well is driving forwards with the ball at his feet.

Conclusion

Overall, Tomori provides a very solid and experienced option if Southgate is to choose it. He brings different qualities to the centrebacks that usually play. He could become a good addition to the England back line due to his good progressive passing and ability to carry the ball forwards into dangerous areas.

Furthermore, his comfortability on his left foot can provide balance to England’s defence. Tomori’s previous experience in a back three could give him a starting place over out-of-form Harry Maguire who usually plays there.

Seeing Tomori start for England would be a positive progression towards the next core of England internationals. However, Southgate likes to stick with his tried and trusted. Maguire, Stones and Dier all provide experience under Southgate.

One area in which Tomori provides good cover for is the pace potentially lost through Kyle Walker. Walker has been deployed as a centre-back in a back three and his pace allows England to engage higher up the pitch. The introduction of Tomori to this system would provide similar cover.

Tomori can play comfortably in a back four, therefore if Southgate decides to switch it up, Tomori could well be a viable option paired with John Stones, who also regularly plays in a back four.