Chelsea have reportedly knocked down a £10 million offer from Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion for teenage defender Reece James.
According to a report from The Sun, Chelsea have flat out rejected a £10 million bid for 19-year-old right-back Reece James, who is currently away on loan at Championship outfit Wigan Athletic, from fellow Premier League outfit Brighton & Hove Albion.
James, a product of the Chelsea youth academy, has been held in very high regard in and around the club. The full-back was part of the Blues’ U18 team that won the FA Youth League back in 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, while he has also won the European U19 Championship with England in 2017.
James was loaned out to Championship outfit Wigan in the last summer in order to help continue his development. And the Englishman has thrived during his time with the Latics, having not missed a single game in the second division this season.
The 19-year-old has 43 league appearances for Paul Cook’s side, in which he has scored and assisted three goals apiece and has been named in the EFL Championship Team of the Year. Primarily a right-back, James has also been used in a defensive midfield role at Wigan in recent matches, where he has impressed.
James’ progress with Wigan hasn’t gone unnoticed, with Brighton coming up with a substantial £10 million offer for the teenage defender. The Seagulls are looking to strengthen their right-back slot as captain Bruno Saltor is in the final few months of his current contract. Even if he pens a new deal, he will be 39 years old in October, making a new full-back signing a priority for Chris Hughton.
However, their approach has been rebuffed by Chelsea, as they see the talented James likely to be a first-team member come next season. The Blues have Cesar Azpilicueta as the first-choice right-back currently, with Davide Zappacosta operating as the Spaniard’s understudy.
However, the Italian international has failed to make much of an impression since signing from Torino in 2017 and could be on his way out in the summer, as per the report. And Chelsea, who had been linked with Napoli right-back Elseid Hysaj not so long ago, are instead hoping to hand James a chance to step up to the first-team.
This comes as a blow for Brighton as well as Chelsea’s London rivals Crystal Palace, who were also eyeing a move for James amid uncertainty over the future of Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The Eagles starlet has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, leading to their interest in James, should the former end up departing in the summer.
James is contracted with Chelsea till the summer of 2022 and judging by his performances for Wigan this season, he seems ready to make the step up to Premier League football. And should Zappacosta be offloaded in the summer, he could get his chance with the Blues next season. As for Brighton, they will have to look elsewhere to sign a new right-back.