Steve Bruce may live to rue Mike Ashley failing to forge a successful swoop for Newcastle United to sign Fikayo Tomori on loan as the Chelsea defender nears a move to AC Milan.
According to Nicolo Schira, Tomori is expected to be unveiled as a Rossoneri recruit on Wednesday after the Serie A side reached an agreement with Chelsea over a half-season deal.
Tomori has given his backing to the move, which will see Milan pay a €1m (£890k) loan fee and take hold of an option to buy the England defender in the summer for €29m (£26m).
Newcastle had been linked with interest in a potential deal to sign Tomori this month, with Bruce said to have requested further information on the Canadian-born centre-half’s situation as he sought to improve the ranks at St. James’ Park.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has now confirmed Tomori has likely played his final game in the Premier League this season, having overlooked the £15.5m-rated titan for Saturday’s 1-0 win over Fulham due to his imminent departure.
Tomori has been an outcast of Lampard’s plans this term and has featured in only one of the Stamford Bridge natives’ top-flight matchday squads since October, while his omission from the starting line-up of their FA Cup third round tie with League Two Morecombe showed just how far the 23-year-old has fallen out of favour.
He had emerged as a first-choice option in south west London last term, making 22 appearances across all competitions, but featured only once in the Premier League following the turn of the year.
Tomori nearing a deal to join Serie A leaders Milan will likely have frustrated Bruce, who would have stood to benefit greatly from welcoming the £75,000-per-week enforcer Lampard believes is a “fantastic” talent to Newcastle this month.
Despite falling out of favour under Lampard last season, Tomori still ranked second only to Cesar Azpilicueta (2.39) for successful tackles per Premier League game (1.93) among the defenders to have featured in 10 or more matches for Chelsea, per SofaScore.
He also ranked first at the Bridge for total passes per game (76.73), second for clearances (2.8), third for interceptions (1.47), accurate long balls (2.8) and least times dribbled past (0.33), while winning 2.93 ground duels and 2.27 aerial contests.
Those aspects would have certainly come in handy against Arsenal on Monday as the Magpies lost 3-0 to suffer their ninth defeat of the league season – only basement boys Sheffield United (16) and West Bromwich Albion (11) have lost more.
Jamaal Lascelles was far too quick to stand off the Gunners frontline and appeared to lose his mind once the game was gone, as he made his first Premier League appearance since November after recovering from coronavirus.
No player for either side committed more fouls than Lascelles (2), who – like partner Ciaran Clark – also failed to make a single successful tackle or interception and won just one of his two aerial duels at the Emirates, per WhoScored.
Newcastle also do not have a ball-playing centre-back at present, with Clark averaging the most per top-flight game to date at 35.9, making it even more of a blunder by Ashley to not do all he could to wrap up a deal for Tomori this month.
AND in other news, Newcastle United are being targeted to solve another PL side’s transfer crisis.