Chelsea are reportedly unlikely to entertain any sort of approach for club captain Reece James, despite recent links to Real Madrid. The defender has struggled for fitness so far this season but is still incredibly highly rated at Stamford Bridge and has the full support of manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Following the departure of Cesar Azpilicueta over the summer, Pochettino decided to overlook the more experienced figures in his dressing room and opted to name James as his captain, with Ben Chilwell offering support as his vice.
The 23-year-old has played just 105 minutes in the Premier League since receiving the armband, with injuries continuing to hinder the progress of the right-back. Despite that, James still has admirers around Europe – with Real Madrid routinely linked with acquiring the services of the defender and reportedly believing the defender can be a success like Jude Bellingham.
With Daniel Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez both over 30, Los Blancos are looking to bring in a new long-term right-back who can provide stability in their backline in the long term. James has been labelled world-class by Pochettino and would join fellow Englishman Jude Bellingham at the Santiago Bernabeu as an elite-level England international plying their trade in Spain’s capital.
However, Chelsea reportedly have no interest in parting ways with their skipper. According to Fabrizio Romano, Pochettino and the Blues’ board are in agreement that James still has plenty to offer at the club and that he has the potential to be a key player in both the short and long term.
Chelsea have invested heavily in players who will improve over time but they still feel that the defender can be a central part of their project. James also penned a bumper contract extension with the Blues last year in what was a major sign of commitment to his boyhood club’s project and their intentions for the future.
Pochettino has regularly sung the praises of James since his arrival at Chelsea, recently labelling him as one of the best full-backs on the planet. “It’s really important, especially if he’s your captain, that he can stay fit and can play and help the team,” the former Tottenham boss explained after James’ return to the first-team in midweek.
“He’s an important player for us, an amazing player, for me he’s one of the best full-backs in the world. It’s unlucky that we only played with him for 70 minutes against Liverpool in the first game and then and it was until today that he can play from the start. Of course, the temptation now is to say go and play 90 minutes but we need to be careful and little by little he is going to get fit and able to cope with the amount of games.”