Reece James: The Academy Graduate Chelsea Need to Consider for the First-Team

Reece James
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With Chelsea facing a transfer ban lasting the next two windows, the club will have to find other strategies to improve their squad for next season. One of the most obvious ways of doing this is to turn their attention to the club’s loan system. The west London outfit currently have 41 players enduring loan spells at other clubs around the world.

With Chelsea clearly needing to get rid of some of their current, ageing squad, there are a number of loanees performing at different clubs that could be considered. One of those players is 19-year-old Reece James. James has spent his first senior season on loan with Championship side Wigan Athletic, and was named in the ‘Championship Team of the Year’. He has impressed so much that fans think he is more than capable of playing for the first-team at Chelsea.

Player Profile: Reece James

Born in the London Borough of Redbridge in December 1999, Reece James joined the academy of his boyhood club, Chelsea, aged six. James had real talent as he progressed through the youth ranks at Chelsea. He captained the Blues to a joint-record fifth FA Youth Cup title in a row in 2018, just one of many of honours James has won at youth level. He was named Chelsea ‘Academy Player of the Year 2017-18’ after guiding the Under-18s to a trophy-filled season.

After penning a five-year deal with Chelsea last summer, James joined Wigan Athletic on a season-long loan deal, a move which has been a huge success for the 19-year-old.

An excellent crosser, Reece has managed three assists this season as well as a goal. The right-back has won an average of two aerial duels per game and has a great ability to dribble. To add to that, the teenager has a knack for shooting, with a shot percentage of just under one shot per match. Finally, James averages more key passes, crosses and dribbles than Chelsea’s current right-back César Azpilicueta.

Where Does James Fit at Chelsea?

The biggest question is whether Reece James would fit at Chelsea or not. He would definitely bring a new factor to the team. Stats show that in some cases, James has performed better on the pitch than Azpilicueta. However, the Spaniard has shown other qualities that better James’ this campaign.

Those include a higher pass success rate and more tackles per game. As well, being Chelsea captain, he has more experience. Blues manager Maurizio Sarri has been reluctant to play his younger players often since taking charge, opting to use more experienced ones instead.

Despite coming under criticism by fans on numerous occasions this season, it doesn’t look like Azpilicueta will be on his way out. Instead, it would be more likely that James would replace out of favour Davide Zappacosta, backup to Azpilicueta. Zappacosta joined from Torino almost two years ago but has failed to maintain a place in the team. This term, Davide has only made two appearances in the league, both coming off the bench.

Several young full-backs have become regulars with Premier League clubs in recently, such as Liverpool‘s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Crystal Palace‘s Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Whilst it would take some time before James completely broke into the first-team, this would be a massive opportunity for a prospect with such potential. He is certainly a player to remember.

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