Fikayo Tomori has confirmed Chelsea blocked him from joining Everton last summer.
The England international had been in talks to move to Goodison on loan having dropped down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.
However, then-boss Frank Lampard blocked the move, with Carlo Ancelotti instead moving for Ben Godfrey, before Chelsea sanctioned a deadline day switch to West Ham United.
The 23-year-old ultimately decided to stay put at Chelsea, making just one substitute Premier League appearance before signing on loan for AC Milan last month.
Lampard was sacked just days after the defender’s temporary switch to the San Siro, with Thomas Tuchel taking over in his place.
And having enjoyed a promising start to his time in Italy, Tomori has opened up on why his summer move to Everton did not come to fruition.
“It was so frustrating. 2020, football-wise, was very, very difficult, especially after the way 2019 had gone for me playing games,” he told the Telegraph.
“From being at 100 to literally going down to zero and then not knowing the reason why it had gone to zero, it was very challenging.
“I was thinking that after the way the previous six months had gone, the best thing for me to do was to go on loan and get some games and come back to Chelsea with a full season in the Premier League behind me.
“I was ready to go and I wasn’t allowed to because the manager said I was in his plans.
“Then, a few hours before the deadline, I got a call saying the manager had said I could go to West Ham and it was a shock because this hadn’t been in the conversation at all.
“I like to think I’m pretty logical and I think things through and, together with my dad and my agent, my plan had been that if Everton didn’t happen, I had to be prepared to stay at Chelsea.
“By the time the West Ham offer came, it was too late to just switch that mentality with no time to think about it.”
Tomori admits Lampard never explained his decision to block the defender’s switch to Everton, but he holds no ill-feelings against his former boss.
“I will always be grateful for the opportunities he (Lampard) gave me,” he said.
“Maybe because of our history he thought I would accept it, but from my perspective, with that history, it felt more personal and harder to understand.
“I don’t know what happened, it wasn’t really explained to me.
“Soon after joining Milan, the manager sent me a positive message. It was an unusual situation – I wasn’t at Chelsea any more and he wasn’t the manager.
“With all he had going on, it was a nice thing to take the time to do. I appreciated that. I wouldn’t say there is a bad feeling, it just is what it is. I’ve learned to look forward and I’m stronger for the experience.”
He continued: “That was a challenging time mentally, but carrying it with me isn’t going to be good for me. I made a promise to myself that now I’m in Milan, the next months or until whenever, I’ve got to be focused on what I’m doing here.
“Everybody would love to live a fairytale, but football and life is not a fairytale. I’m not saying I’m never going to be at Chelsea again. But at this time I’m not a Chelsea player, I’m at Milan and I have to be focused on here and, who knows, I could have a fairytale in Milan.”