As Reece James and many other youth team prospects can tell you, Chelsea are not a club that trust their youth players to make first team positions their own. But perhaps they should take a leaf out of the book of a team that does. Liverpool may be hated rivals but they do give youngsters a real chance to prove themselves.
Trent Alexander Arnold has become Liverpool’s undisputed right back. Not long ago, he was an unknown youth team player. Liverpool gave him chance and he did the rest. There is no need for the Reds to spend big money on that position.
Not all youth players will be good enough to make the grade at top clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool. However, we only find out who is if their managers actually give them a run of games. That is the only reason why players such as Alexander-Arnold or Harry Kane and Dele Alli at Spurs are where they are now. They were given a chance and they took it.
At Wigan, Reece James has just won the club’s player of the month award for the third month running.
The Chelsea loanee is only 18 but is impressing immensely in the right back position.
His parent club need upgrades in both full back positions. There are some players they could sign but the options are relatively few and would be very expensive.
Elseid Hysaj of Napoli or Ricardo Periera at Leicester would both cost over £50 million.
Chelsea could simultaneously save that money and discover a gem of a player by giving James a run next season. He may not be up to scratch. But he deserves the chance to show that he is.