After another pinpoint assist, Reece James is becoming the Cobham Cafu

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It’s turning into a golden age for English right-backs.

Whether it’s Trent Alexander-Arnold redefining the word ‘baller’, Tariq Lampety winning hearts and minds with his Road Runner approach to football or Kyle Walker keeping goal, it’s clear there is something in the St George’s Park water.

No wonder Gareth Southgate dreams of naming an entire XI of right-backs for England.

Much like Alexander-Arnold, there are some questions about whether Chelsea‘s Reece James could end up in midfield, such is his technical ability on the ball.

Still only 20 years old, James forced his way into Frank Lampard’s plans after an impressive loan spell at Wigan Athletic. From there, he hasn’t looked back, making 37 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions last season.

Blessed with an abundance of pace and crossing more accurate than Keir Starmer at PMQs, James is very much a modern right-back.

He showcased these very skills during Chelsea’s swatting aside of Rennes in the Champions League. James ranked highly in terms of ball recoveries and aerial duels won, while also wreaking havoc in the opposition’s attacking third.

With Ben Chilwell impressing on the other flank, Chelsea have two of England’s finest full-backs on either side of defence.

The highlight of James’ night was undoubtedly the assist for Tammy Abraham’s goal. When Hakim Ziyech received the ball on the right flank, James saw the opportunity to motor past the Moroccan. Sensibly, Ziyech released possession to the onrushing youngster.

Letting the ball run across his body, James unleashed a pinpoint first-time cross directly onto the left boot of Tammy Abraham. It was a classy finish, but such was the accuracy of the Cafu-esque cross that it was almost impossible to miss.

Besides, Abraham knew where the credit lay for the goal and sauntered over to congratulate James. Game, as they say, recognises game.


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