Reece James, remember the name, memorise the face. Us fans could be seeing a lot of James in the coming 2019/2020 season after a stellar loan spell away at Wigan Athletic. After being sent out on loan as a right-back, it seems James has returned as a right-back, a defensive midfielder, and even a goalkeeper.
With James doing more than enough to impress manager Paul Cook, you wonder, could James come back to the club to provide Chelsea with the squad depth they need in central midfield?
With Tiemoue Bakayoko’s future still uncertain, Mateo Kovacic reportedly only wanting a move back to Inter Milan, and Barkley failing to perform consistently, promoting James to the first-team squad and into a central midfield role could be a stroke of genius from the next Chelsea manager.
Given Kovacic’s lack of a return to Stamford Bridge next season, it would be pointless to compare him to James. Instead, the focus will be placed on James’ direct rivals in Chelsea’s midfield, Barkley and Bakayoko, and spoiler alert, the England youth international trumps both of them.
James enjoyed a hugely successful stint in Wigan’s midfield, which included a positional change late season that brought about rave reviews for the 19-year-old. James got one goal and two assists in his final eight games in defensive midfield for Wigan. That’s one more goal and assist than Barkley managed to get while playing his final eight games of the Premier League season. There also remains the curious case surrounding Bakayoko, who despite a solid spell individual performances at AC Milan only got one goal and one assist all season. Again, this was one less than James managed in his final eight games of the season in midfield.
Defensively, James trumps Barkley in every single department and looks to be the better player, however, this is hardly surprising given James’ natural position is at right-back. When compared to Bakayoko, James trumps the French international in every department bar tackles and interceptions per game.
James is only 19-years-old, however, he looks to be a more influential player than both Bakayoko and Barkley. The England youth international already looks mature enough to displace both Barkley and Bakayoko in Chelsea’s midfield. And while, Chelsea can’t afford to get rid of both midfielders in this transfer due to their ban from signing players, one of the players can be sold to make space for James in Chelsea’s squad next season.