Tuchel suggests 22-year-old is Chelsea's secret weapon against quick strikers

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spoke about Reece James’ best positions and how he uses the young defender to deal with quick opposition forwards.

After 30 games in the Premier League this season, only Mason Mount has more goal contributions than James [five goals and six assists] in the competition among Chelsea players.

This shows how influential James has been in the final third for Chelsea, both with his strikes and crosses.

What is more impressive is that alongside his excellent attacking output, James is also one of Chelsea’s best defenders.

He is arguably the second-fastest defender at Chelsea after Antonio Rudiger, and this makes him a valuable weapon against teams that rely on quick attacks.

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This is exactly why Tuchel sometimes deployed him as a right centre-back, including in the second leg clash against Real Madrid.

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“In between there — he can play as a right wing-back for us. He had big games and big impact with goals and assists from this position,” the German told Chelsea TV when asked about James’ best role.

“He played in the back three last season against Leicester [City] when we had [to deal with] the speed of [Jamie] Vardy on the far left side, and [recently] from [Real Madrid’s] Vinicius, and things went perfectly well.

“So these are the two positions where I see him and where he has a huge impact.

“He’s still young, and you see what we missed for so many weeks [during his injury absence].”

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While this illustrates James’ important role at Chelsea, this also highlights the lack of defensive options to deal with pace in Tuchel’s squad.

When James plays a deeper role, Chelsea’s right flank is often not as effective as neither Cesar Azpilicueta nor Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who recently played an interesting hybrid role, are as comfortable playing as a right wing-back.

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A Chelsea fan who loves football statistics. Studied sports journalism at the University of Sunderland.