Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Rafael Leao makes Reece James Chelsea admission amid England World Cup puzzle

Rafael Leao makes Reece James Chelsea admission amid England World Cup puzzle

Chelsea’s 3-0 win over AC Milan on Wednesday night confirmed that, on current form, Reece James will start ahead of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right side of defense for Gareth Southgate and England at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

However, a recent development in the England squad could have changed the 22-year-old’s role in Southgate’s Three Lions setup. 

According to multiple reports, Manchester City’s Kyle Walker had surgery for a groin problem.

As a result, Walker’s chances of making the World Cup squad have diminished significantly.

One man’s plight is another man’s fortune, and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, Newcastle’s Kyle Trippier, and Arsenal’s Ben White will all be hoping for increased starting opportunities as a result.

With the 32-year- old’s  pace potentially missing from this back-five system, Southgate may decide to move the dangerous attacking threat of James to right-centre-back, which may limit some of his qualities.

Chelsea’s man of the match against Milan not only scored a goal but also assisted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in this crucial week 3 match of this season’s UEFA Champions League group stages.

It was a performance that not only had manager Graham Potter and teammates like Aubameyang gushing about the star quality of the Cobham product.

“For me he’s the best,” Aubameyang told reporters after the game. “For me he’s the best in the world at the moment. I think he’s doing an amazing job and you could see that today; a goal and an assist – I think he’s on top form.”

Rafael Leao, his opponent for the evening and a Blues transfer target, expressed a similar sentiment after the game.

Leao himself has been linked to the Blues for next summer, with a deal for Christopher Nkunku to join next season appearing to be imminent.

Nonetheless, despite failing to live up to the hype, the 24-year-old admitted that James was one of the “toughest” full-back/wing-back opponents he had faced in his career.

“James is a good player, he was all over me and everywhere at the same time, he timed his runs very fine,” Leao said afterwards to somtosport.com. 

“I hardly talk about opposing players but this guy is actually the toughest I have faced I think. He scored a goal too against us and that’s something you don’t get from every defender.

“We just have to focus and finish in a good position now cause the competition was never expected to be easy. We slipped and we won’t let that hold us back, we will work harder for the next games.”

Rafael Leao makes Reece James Chelsea admission amid England World Cup puzzle

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