Milan defender Fikayo Tomori believes playing against Zlatan Ibarhimovic in training makes him a better player while Rafael Leao is a ‘match winner’. The English centre-back spoke with CBS soccer about his time in Italy, winning a Serie A title and why facing different forwards has helped him improve his game:
I think I’m cleverer. Being on the pitch more helps that but little fouls or positioning yourself in a way that makes the striker think. Those kind of things have made me a bit cleverer.
Defending different kind of players that are probably nastier but obviously training with Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] you can’t really be too timid because if you are then he’ll score 10 goals or whatever it is in training. You have to be a bit tougher, nasty in a sense.
Playing in training against him, it makes you a better player from the experience he has and the quality he has, still at his age. When I first came, I didn’t really know how he would be around the training ground but he was definitely someone you could see played at a good level, against the world’s best, because of the confidence he has in himself and his own quality. He doesn’t only talk about it but he backs it up and you can see why he played at such a high level for all those years.
When I first came … my friends were asking me which other players I liked and I kept saying, ‘That Leao guy is really good. He is strong, fast and skillful’. I think the thing for me was that I didn’t think he realized how good he was or could become.
I think now, especially off the back of last season, he is starting to grow and realize what he can do. He is realizing how he can hurt opponents and hurt his direct opponent. I think people in not only Milan but now Serie A and around Europe are really starting to take notice of him. I think he is doing amazing for us. He is a match winner for us by creating and scoring goals and lighting up the game. He has been amazing and hopefully he can continue that on Wednesday.”