Ex-Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot has delivered a glowing verdict on the club’s current young star Reece James.
James has broken into the first-team at Stamford Bridge this season after a successful loan in the Championship last year with Wigan Athletic.
The 20-year-old is slowly earning more trust from manager Frank Lampard week by week and is starting to nail down a regular spot in the starting XI.
He is an attack-minded right-back that has come out of the blossoming academy and is the latest in a string of success stories from the club’s youth teams.
The England Under-21 international is so effective going forward with his athleticism and his accurate crossing, while defensively he’s a powerhouse and tenacious in one-on-one moments.
Melchiot, who enjoyed a five-year spell as a player with Chelsea, has picked out defender James as a massive star that is catching his eye.
“Very good! I’ve watched him closely and I’ve see him getting better. We all know about him going forward, his crossing and how good he is,” Melchiot told talkSPORT.
“But his game against [Wilfried] Zaha, who is arguably one of the best wingers in this league and if you play against him one-on-one he can beat you, James kept him quiet for 90 minutes. Zaha didn’t get anything.
“When I saw that, I knew he was the real deal and he’s getting better and better.”
There doesn’t appear to be any chinks in the armour of James’ game and he fits the bill as a modern full-back that is good at most things.
Despite only turning 20 back in December, he’s beginning to be a regular in the starting line-up and has now played 21 games across all competition this season.
There is a much better balance about the team when he’s in at right-back and club captain Cesar Azpilicueta has had to move over to left-back several times to accommodate him.