Chelsea manager Frank Lampard is set to hand 19-year-old right-back Reece James the role of backup to Cesar Azpilicueta next season.
The Mirror report that the newly appointed manager was originally planning to give the backup role to Ola Aina, who made 32 appearances for Torino in Serie A last season, however, the Nigerian international made a permanent move to the Italian side (per Chelsea’s official website).
The Blues also have Italian full-back Davide Zappacosta to call upon for the right-back position, but the report states that Lampard is likely to move the 27-year-old on once James has returned from injury, with Lazio said to be interested in the defender.
With a transfer ban currently limiting Chelsea’s activity in the current summer window (per Sky Sports News), a turn to youth has been prevalent so far this pre-season, with the likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham featuring heavily, and after the year James had with Wigan, it is understandable as to why the youngster is in line to feature for the first-team.
As well as making it into the EFL Championship Team of the Season (per BBC Sport), James was also named Wigan’s Player of the Season, one of three awards the right-back won during his time with the Latics (per Wigan’s official website).
With Zappacosta being largely a squad player since his arrival from Torino in 2017, making just 34 starts over two seasons with the Blues (per Transfermarkt), and Lampard seemingly looking to play youth, it makes sense as to why the Chelsea boss is eager to use James as a back-up to Azpilicueta over the Italian.
After an impressive season out on loan with Wigan, it appears James has proven to Lampard that he is ready for a place in the first-team, and with the new Chelsea manager seemingly taking a youthful approach for next season, the 19-year-old fits with what direction the club is heading in.
A successful season with Wigan has boosted James’ chances of first-team football in the top-flight, and although he will be behind Azpilicueta in the pecking order, it is an interesting decision from the club that is likely to make fans excited.
Chelsea fans, how will James do for the first-team? Let us know!
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