Reece James – Following in the footsteps of Cesar Azpilicueta in more ways than one?

It’s been a fantastic sixteen months for Reece James at Chelsea having earned his place in the first team, dominating Raheem Sterling in the...

It’s been a fantastic sixteen months for Reece James at Chelsea having earned his place in the first team, dominating Raheem Sterling in the Champions League final, and making the right wing-back position his own. 

Cast your minds back to when Ashley Cole was still at Chelsea. You would have bet your mortgage on the fact that Cole was our number one left-back, so much so you would have been better off checking out rather than try and select anyone else starting for Chelsea in that position.

Jose Mourinho was the manager and Cesar Azpilicueta was asked to fill in at left-back in a cup game away at Arsenal. On that night Chelsea was victorious, but it was the performance and goal-scoring exploits of Azpilicueta that really caught the manager’s eye. 

From that moment, it was Azpi who was selected as first choice rather than Ashley Cole. As a result, Cole left the club the following summer and you could argue that Azpilicueta never looked back with Jose Mourinho quoted as saying that he wanted “Eleven Azpilicueta’s” in his side. 

For Reece James it’s looking like a similar story is being played out. He was rotating with Cesar Azpilicueta under Frank Lampard, but now under Thomas Tuchel, even though Azpi still plays on the right-side now and again, it’s Reece James who has made that position his own. 

There is plenty of debate up and down the country regarding the right-back / right-wing-back position for England. Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold are fighting for the start but for me, there is only one winner based on all-around ability with AND without the ball. 

Reece James demonstrated his defensive quality in the Champions League Final against Raheem Sterling. He nullified his threat and gave us a solid base on that side to build on. Add to that James’ ability with the ball at his feet and there is no contest. His pinpoint crossing into the box has been a real highlight since he came into the first team, but in recent weeks he has shown a real eye for goal with his fantastic double at Newcastle. 

Reliable, solid in the challenge, vary rarely beaten one-one-one, an ability to deliver a great ball into the box, great energy and someone who can put the ball in the back of the net from that right wing-back position, surely Reece James is now Chelsea’s number one moving forward in this position. 

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