Chelsea’s reigning Academy Player of the Year and current Wigan Athletic “absolute superstar”, Reece James is set to fly under the radar no more, according to the Evening Standard, as the youngster’s stellar season in the Championship has put him “in contention” for a first-team promotion next season. And apparently this is not just a forced reaction to the impending FIFA sanctions, with the 19-year-old set to be given a shot regardless of whether Chelsea’s appeal is successful in delaying the start of the two-window ban until January.
Considering how little Davide Zappacosta has played this season, Reece should certainly have a good chance at displacing him at the very least. Zappacosta was linked with a return to Italy over the winter transfer window and those are likely to return this summer as well.
Of course, that’s assuming he’s given a proper shot, and not left to just make up numbers in training like Ethan Ampadu or even Callum Hudson-Odoi have been (certainly in the first part of the season), despite earning similar promotions to the first-team last summer.
Zappacosta has received 10 starts all season, none of which have been in the Premier League (8 in Europa League, 1 in League Cup and 1 in FA Cup). Thus, if Reece James is brought into the first-team, expectations must be made clear to Sarri (or whoever will be manager at that point) that James’ budding career must not be allowed to stagnate by leaving him to rot on the bench, or worse.
(Ed.note: let’s think positive; maybe this is the start of a major shift in approach — spend big on a few, use the talent in the Academy to fill out the rest of the squad, as we should’ve been since 2012.)