Crystal Palace are reportedly set to target Chelsea defender Reece James as the replacement option for Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
According to an exclusive report by The Sun, Reece James is drawing interest from Premier League outfit Crystal Palace over a move either this summer or in January. The 19-year-old Chelsea academy product is being viewed as a possible replacement for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who joined Manchester United last month.
Reece James is one of the more prodigious talents to have emanated out of the Chelsea youth setup, having even been named the club’s Academy Player of the Year for 2017-18, a season in which he also captained the Under-18s. But, like many before him, the teenager ended up becoming a part of the Blues’ infamous loaning system.
At Wigan, James enjoyed a fantastic campaign, missing just two games all through the season while also directly contributing to six goals (3 goals, 3 assists). But, the 19-year-old might be on his way out Chelsea for another season despite impressing for the Latics, with Crystal Palace showing an interest in him.
The Eagles have lost one of their finest prospects, Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United. The Englishman’s departure have left Palace with Joel Ward and Martin Kelly as the two available right-backs. With neither defender managing to enjoy the confidence of Roy Hodgson last season, it will hardly be surprising if they end up signing a right-back to replace Wan-Bissaka.
To that end, a move for James does make sense, although with reports suggesting that he could have a role to play in the Chelsea first-team setup following the appointment of Frank Lampard. But, with Cesar Azpilicueta being an ever-present in the side up until now, it is hard to see how the English Under-20 international could be a regular for the West Londoners.
And so, a move to Crystal Palace does make sense, provided James is able to become a mainstay in the side, a la Ruben Loftus-Cheek who ended up playing regularly for Chelsea last term following his own season-long loan spell at Selhurst Park.
The report suggests that Palace are hoping to sign James this summer, but could also wait till the January window to secure his services. However, Chelsea might be forced to hold on to James as well, with Davide Zappacosta reportedly open to departing from Stamford Bridge this summer.
The Blues will be unable to sign any player this summer, owing to their two-window transfer ban and in such a situation, James could find a pathway to first-team football. But, it remains to be seen if he ends up joining Crystal Palace instead, in search of regular game time in the Premier League.