Burnley are eyeing a loan move for Chelsea defender Reece James, who has been also courted by Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace.
According to The Sun, Burnley scout Mike Rigg has identified Chelsea loanee Reece James as the ideal player to bulk up their defensive options next season, provided they survive the drop in the Premier League this campaign.
A right-back by trade, James has raised a lot of eyebrows with his impressive performances for Wigan Athletic this season and could be on the verge of a move to the top division in the summer, with Brighton, Crystal Palace and Burnley all interested in his services.
Burnley, in particular, could emerge as the favourites as the Clarets, unlike their rivals, are actually plotting a loan deal for the defender, which complies with Chelsea’s tendency of loaning out young and promising individuals.
Although the Blues were initially hoping to send James abroad on a temporary deal, a move to Burnley could also prove to be beneficial for the 18 year old for a number of reasons.
Sean Dyche has lacked adequate depth in the right-back position this season, with Matthew Lowton struggling to make an impression in the starting eleven. As a result, the Burnley coach has had to rely on the services of veteran defender Phil Bardsley, especially during the second half of the campaign.
But, with Bardsley already turning 34 before the start of next season, the addition of a new right-back could be imperative for the Clarets and that’s where James comes into the fray.
As mentioned earlier, the youngster has impressed with his consistent performances with Wigan in the Championship this season. He has been an ever-present figure in the Wigan backline, notably making 37 league appearances so far.
Unlike Bardsley and Lowton, James is excellent with the ball at his feet and has the ability to drift past opposition with his subtle movements. He also has a remarkable vision, which allows him to pick teammates in the final third, with the defender already averaging 1.6 key passes per game this season.
Furthermore, James is an excellent crosser of the ball, which makes him somewhat proficient in taking set-pieces but what makes the 18-year-old such an appealing target for Burnley is his energy and tenacity, which tunes in well with Dyche’s hard-working philosophy at Turf Moor.
Simply put, James’ attack-minded nature could certainly add another dimension to Burnley’s wing-play and at the age of just 18, the Chelsea defender will be able to add some youthful exuberance to the team as they aim to achieve a higher placed finish in the league next season.
For Chelsea, however, holding onto James next season might not be a bad idea either, with Cesar Azpilicueta showing signs of deterioration. And if we consider, the nature of Maurizio Sarri’s tactics, James’ attacking game could certainly be useful for the Italian mastermind, provided he keeps his job till the end of the campaign.