AC MILAN transfer chief Paolo Maldini has hinted at a permanent transfer bid for loan star Fikayo Tomori – at below the pre-agreed price.
Chelsea sent the English defender to the San Siro in January to gain first-team experience in the Serie A title race.
After Milan beat Roma 2-1 on Sunday, 23-year-old Tomori came in for huge praise in only his fifth start for the team.
And talk is already turning to Italian legend Maldini trying to land his signature permanently.
Chelsea accepted a purchase option reportedly worth £27m when sending Tomori on loan.
Speaking after the game, Milan technical director Maldini told Sky Sport Italia: "I am lucky enough to work for a club that, when we called, he answered.
"Milan has an effect on many players, even if we have not won at European level for 14 years.
"As for Fikayo, he has unique assets of speed, intensity, for us he was a possible reinforcement for the rest of the season.
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"There is a very high price of purchase, we will evaluate whether to exercise it or not.
"From that point of view the situation is clear. We have weekly talks with the players whose deals are about to expire, including [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic."
Frank Lampard promoted Tomori to the Chelsea first-team last season but he played just 26 games in 18 months before the loan switch.
The Premier League side hired Thomas Tuchel days later, with the German coach opting for a three-man backline that may offer the player a route into the side if he impresses in Italy.
Former England manager and Serie A icon Fabio Capello was one of many to praise the centre-back for his performance against Roma.
Tomori had been brought into the XI to replace club captain Alessio Romagnoli after two straight defeats knocked Milan off the top of the table.
Milan throughout history has always been built on defence, if you have a fast player then you’re in luck.
The club sit second and four points behind Inter Milan, who are on a six-game winning run in the league.
Capello said of Tomori: "As a coach I always wanted a fast defender.
"Milan throughout history has always been built on defence, if you have a fast player then you’re in luck.
"A fast player is so important, his recovery in the first-half on Borja Mayoral was fantastic, without making a foul."
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