Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has confirmed that centre-back Fikayo Tomori is being lined up for a loan move away from Stamford Bridge this month.
The 23-year-old has managed just 45 minutes of Premier League action this season and has usually been left out of the Blues' matchday squad altogether, instead only seeing minutes in the Carabao Cup.
Considering his lack of minutes, it came as a surprise to only see Tomori handed ten minutes in Sunday's 4-0 win over Morecambe in the FA Cup, and Lampard confirmed after the game that his decision was made because Tomori is set to leave the club on loan.
"The situation with Fikayo is open at the moment," Lampard said (via football.london). "There is a possibility he could be going on loan to get games somewhere else. That was part of my thinking of not starting him today.
“I gave him some minutes at the end but while we were looking at that I wanted to make sure it was the right thing for the club and for him and individually. So that’s why he didn’t start. But his attitude, even though he hasn’t played much recently, has been fantastic in training and in how he is.”
Tomori has been Chelsea's fifth-choice centre-back this season, with Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen the preferred backups to starters Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva.
A loan move has been suggested as the best option for months, with Chelsea concerned about letting the 23-year-old's career stagnate, but there were concerns that a recent knee injury suffered by Christensen could force Tomori to stay at the club.
That may well have been Chelsea's preferred outcome this month, although it emerged in December that Tomori was more than a little frustrated by his current situation, with The Athletic going as far as to state that the defender aimed to push for a permanent exit in January.
Chelsea do not want to lose the 23-year-old, who is seen by many as a bright prospect for the future, so agreeing to loan him out may be the only way to appease Tomori.
In terms of potential landing spots for Tomori, Leeds United have been named as suitors in the Premier League, while Ligue 1 side Rennes have long been linked with a move for the out-of-favour defender.