Gianfranco Zola admits that he and Maurizio Sarri completely missed Fikayo Tomori’s talents when they were in charge at Chelsea last season.
The Blues legend was back at the club working as a coach under Sarri last season, but left when Frank Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge as manager in July.
Sarri took Chelsea to third in the Premier League table and a Europa League triumph after a tops-turvy season ended very well under the Italian.
However, none of the young players who are shining this season under Lampard’s management were given a chance to impress under Sarri.
Zola says he is not surprised to see Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham starring in the first team, but admits he is shocked that Tomori has been doing so well at centre-back.
‘Chelsea have been amazing this season. There have been a few (players) that have been impressing me,’ Zola told Soccer AM.
‘(Fikayo) Tomori is one of the players. Last year we had him in the pre-season and we couldn’t see all the qualities that he is showing now. That is a surprise and a big lesson for us and me personally as well. They are going beyond my expectations.
‘Mason Mount is not surprising me because I saw the videos of him playing in Holland and Derby. He needed to adapt but there was always a big potential.
Tomori, Abraham and Mount are all in the England squad over this international break and are all likely to make an appearance against Kosovo on Sunday night.
Abraham scored his first England goal on Thursday in the 7-0 win over Montenegro, while Tomori can win his first cap for his country in the final Euro 2020 qualifier of the campaign.