Reece James likened to Beckham as Chelsea legend talks up promising full-back

Reece James David Beckham
The 20-year-old defender has seen his crossing ability hailed by Pat Nevin, with big things expected of another academy graduate at Stamford Bridge

Reece James is the latest youngster to make a breakthrough at Chelsea, with the 20-year-old full-back seeing his crossing ability compared to David Beckham by Blues legend Pat Nevin.

A number of academy graduates have been given an opportunity to shine on the Premier League stage by Frank Lampard in the 2019-20 campaign.

James, who spent last season on loan at Championship side Wigan, is among those to have made the most of first-team chances afforded to them .

He has taken in 18 appearances across all competitions, recording three assists along the way.

The most recent of those came in a 3-0 win over Burnley, with the England U21 international showcasing his impressive delivery from the flanks .

Former Chelsea winger Nevin has acknowledged as much, telling the club’s official website of a hot prospect: “One skill that looks much easier than it first appears is sending in a vicious cross at pace, with perfect direction while on the run.

“Think of David Beckham at his best, his crossing was his finest attribute by far, and suddenly you realise that being brilliant at one particular skill can get you a very long way in the game. I mention Beckham because the quality of crossing that we see most weeks from Reece James reminds me of his level.

“Hyperbole is common in football, but I hope I am not afflicted by the temptation to go down that route too often, so talking about Reece in that company hopefully means something.

Reece James Chelsea 2019-20

“It is easy enough to put a ball into that area between the defence and the keeper but it is much harder to do it unerringly with pace so the defenders are scared to touch it, the keeper has no chance of coming out to collect it and all the forwards have to do is get on the end of it with any sort of touch. Kevin De Bruyne has that ability along with his many others, but it is rare to that level.

“Reece is extraordinary in this area but looking at his performances of late it is becoming very clear that he is long away from being a one-trick pony. His tackling and recovery have been exceptional and still appear to be improving at a pace. His comfort on the ball is remarkable for one so young. In fact it is already impossible to think of him as a ‘raw’ 20-year-old.

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“He turned out last season for Wigan and as we all know, he was named player of the year for the Latics and had more appearances than anyone else at the club.

“That is superb in itself, but there were some seasoned Wigan fans at the end of the campaign who were seriously asking the question, ‘Is Reece James the best footballer ever to play for the club in its entire history?’ A bold suggestion, but even asking the question speaks volumes for a youngster only there for a season on loan.”

James will be in contention for more competitive minutes on Saturday when Chelsea taken in a trip to Newcastle.