Chelsea have rejected a £10m bid from Brighton for rising star Reece James after the defender’s loan spell at Wigan came to an end.
James has enjoyed a fine season at the DW Stadium and has been identified as a top target by Brighton scout Dan Ashworth, with the Seagulls bidding to hand the England U20 international his chance in the Premier League.
Despite what is a considerable bid for a young star who is as yet untested at the top level, The Sun reports that Chelsea have flatly rejected Brighton’s £10m offer for James, as the Blues view the 19-year-old as an ideal alternative to Cesar Azpilicueta.
Though the youngster would provide initial backup for the Spaniard, James could potentially prove to be the 29-year-old’s long-term successor.
The rising star is unlikely to feature in Chelsea’s senior setup before the end of the current campaign, but he could well feature more prominently under Maurizio Sarri should the Italian opt to offload compatriot Davide Zappacosta.
The Italian has hardly been given the opportunity to establish himself as a key figure in the Blues’ backline, but the full back has not particularly impressed when given the chance since arriving from Torino in 2017.
Chelsea’s impending transfer ban would mean that the west Londoners could not sign a replacement for Zappacosta if they decide to sell him in the summer, though it appears that James is viewed as an internal solution.
It is suggested that the Blues’ plans would also come as a setback to Crystal Palace, who had identified James as a potential replacement for Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The Eagles right back has been linked with a move away from Selhurst Park after enjoying his own breakthrough season.
James, who was named in the Championship team of the year, is apparently happy to wait for Chelsea to make a decision on his future, though it could largely depend on whether or not they are able to dip into the transfer market in the summer.