Fikayo Tomori could be set for a Chelsea breakthrough next season.
The central defender has played a key role in Derby County’s push for promotion from the Championship this season, with Frank Lampard’s men set to play Aston Villa in the play-off final.
He has made a total of 44 appearances in the second-tier thus far this term, even scoring, and may become the rarest of beasts – a successful Chelsea loanee.
Indeed, Maurizio Sarri’s men need to fill a gap in central defence, with Gary Cahill poised to leave Stamford Bridge, and it appears to come down to two men currently on loan – Tomori and Kurt Zouma, who is set to return from a spell at Everton.
The former, who won a Derby County Player of the Year award after an exceptional 2018-19 campaign, is sure to be viewed as a potential star in the making.
His season at Derby has been genuinely superb, with Tomori and fellow loanees Mason Mount and, this time from Liverpool, Harry Wilson leading the charge into the top-flight. They are 90 minutes away from it.
And one has to feel that Tomori, at the age of 21, deserves the shot.
Zouma has had his time and has developed into a centre-back of some renown in the Premier League but it is clear that Sarri does not fancy him as the player he needs in his backline.
Injuries led to stagnation and he was unceremoniously allowed to move to Goodison Park. He could well stay there if the Toffees manage to match whatever asking price is placed on the Frenchman.
Tomori has yet to earn his Premier League stripes but he is well-placed to return to Chelsea after a season sitting under the respective learning trees of manager Lampard and full-back Ashley Cole.
And he has international experience, playing for England’s Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 sides. He won the World Cup with the Under-20s in 2017.
He has already set his goals for his return to the Blues; he wants a spot in the first-team and has namechecked Zouma as potential competition.
Per The Guardian, he said: “There are players out on loan like Kurt Zouma, Jake Clarke-Salter as well, Kalas, so many great players in my position and everyone is vying for that same spot. Whatever the circumstances, it’s going to be difficult but you just have to try and do your best to make an impression.”
He has already made his first-team debut, playing at right-back in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City in 2016.
After this season, he deserves the chance to add to that amount in the coming months.
He will almost certainly start at the heart of Derby’s defence in the play-off final on Monday afternoon, and you can bet Sarri will be paying close attention to his performance while potential plans for next season reverberate at the forefront of his mind.