The January transfer window has only just closed but according to Alan Nixon, Crystal Palace along with Brighton are keeping a very close eye on the development of 19-year-old Chelsea defender Reece James as he continues a season-long loan on the books of Championship side Wigan Athletic.
Capable of playing in both the centre of defence and on the right-hand side, James has shown himself to be a highly competent performer for the Latics throughout the current campaign, playing over 2,600 minutes for Paul Cook’s side and winning the respect of the fans at The DW Stadium along the way.
BRIGHTON. PALACE. Had their top men watching Reece James at WIGAN. CHELSEA can expect a major bids for a lad yet to start for them.
— Alan Nixon (@reluctantnicko) February 4, 2019
Born in London, James has been on the books at Stamford Bridge since the age of just six, turning professional in March of 2017 having long been looked upon the club’s academy coaches as a player with the potential to one day make a real mark in the first-team. Indeed, James was named the Chelsea Academy Player of the Year in the 2017-18 season; prompting a move elsewhere to see him cut his teeth with regular meaningful appearances in the second tier.
Given Wigan’s current league placing, (they sit seven points clear of the drop with 16 games left to play) you’d assume James will be earmarked for greater things in the 2019/20 season and whilst the man himself will no doubt have his heart set on battling for a place in the Chelsea first-team, genuine interest from Palace and the Seagulls may well turn his head.
One word of caution I would put forward centres on his chances of getting regular minutes in red and blue, given the fine form of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins this season. Of course, he is still just 19 but any call he makes to wave Chelsea goodbye would surely be made with a regular starting role in mind. Would he be sure of that in SE25? It’s hard to see it as things stand.