Crystal Palace’s offer of £20million has been rejected by Chelsea for right-back Reece James, according to the Daily Star.
James, 19, spent last season on loan at Wigan, playing 45 times in the league, chipping in with three goals and three assists, and subsequently won the club’s player of the year award (as per Transfermarkt).
According to the report, the Blues are not willing to part with the player during their transfer ban and see the player as a future first-teamer, thus rejecting the £20million offer.
Palace have been in the market for a right-back in the past month or so since their player of the season Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 21, departed the club to Manchester United for a reported £50million. They have been linked with Carl Jenkinson, Nathaniel Clyne and Timothy Castagne, yet nothing has materialised.
Palace will undoubtedly be in for a right-back now Wan-Bissaka has left the club, as they are now lacking options in that position. Roy Hodgson currently has the options of Joel Ward or Martin Kelly, who both have a wealth of experience behind their backs at 29, but are more defensive-minded full-backs, with neither registering an assist last term (as per WhoScored).
Wan-Bissaka has the third-highest average amount of tackles in the league with 3.7, the seventh-highest amount of interceptions with 2.4 per game, and averages 1.7 dribbles per game – the 13th most in the division, the second most out of any defender (all stats according to WhoScored).
With that in mind, Reece James is a sensible replacement for Wan-Bissaka as he is of similar age and presents good resale value if all goes to plan. He had a fantastic season at Wigan last year, scoring three and assisting three, and while he doesn’t possess the same defensive stats that Wan-Bissaka did last term, he has a lot of room to grow at only 19 years of age.
James does, however, bring a slightly different style to Wan-Bissaka. While he enjoyed getting forward, Wan-Bissaka was more defensive-minded, as you can tell from their WhoScored stats. In terms of their attacking stats, James’ surpass Wan-Bissaka’s quite comfortably. He averages 1 shot per game compared to 0.3 and 1.6 key passes compared to 0.4.
With Wan-Bissaka being such an important player to Palace last season, replacing him will be a high priority. Still, James could be really clever business by Palace as he is surely going to improve given his age and the resale potential could be huge, given that he was linked to United himself by the Daily Mail.
Indeed, finding a right-back has been tricky business and other options look pretty difficult for Palace.
The chance to play in the Champions League with Atalanta next season could (Gazzetta dello Sport via Club Call) be enough to prevent Castagne from leaving and bringing Nathaniel Clyne back to the club could backfire given his injury record (something highlighted by This Is Anfield last year).
Even though Wan-Bissaka showed great dribbling ability and intent down the right flank, the amount of crosses which were put in was considerably low (0.3 per game). If Palace want to make the most out of a tall and big striker like Christian Benteke (who won 5.6 aerial duels per game last season), then the number of crosses – as well as the quality of crosses – need to improve. James has shown he can provide this, averaging 1.6 crosses per game.
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