Manchester City hold an interest in signing Chelsea wing-back Reece James as part of their recruitment process.
A report in The Athletic highlights how the England international is on the shortlist at City, who look set to once more invest heavily in their squad this summer.
James has become an instrumental player at Stamford Bridge across the past two campaigns – making 84 appearances across all competitions and helping them to this season’s Champions League title.
It was Pep Guardiola’s City who Chelsea ousted in the showpiece in Porto last month, while James also starred for Thomas Tuchel’s side in the recent Premier League victory over City at the Etihad and the FA Cup semi-final win at Wembley.
There is said to be an acceptance at City that any deal for James will be wrought with complications this summer due to his long-term deal at Stamford Bridge and prominence within the squad.
City’s attempts were boosted by the Blues pursuing a deal for Inter wing-back Achraf Hakimi this summer, suggesting that James would be displaced in Tuchel’s strongest starting XI.
Hakimi remains more likely to join Paris Saint-Germain this summer but the interest from West London could be a signal that James may not have a defined starting role ahead of next season.
Whilst the England international has a contract at Chelsea through to the summer of 2024, he is thought to be one of the lowest earners in the first-team squad having signed terms before he was a regular starter and having not been signed from another club.
James was one of several highly promising players to develop through Chelsea’s youth system in recent years and has enjoyed a sharp rise to prominence following a successful loan spell at Wigan Athletic in the Championship in the 2018/19 campaign.
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He was trusted by former Blues boss Frank Lampard and his starting role was continued under Tuchel, but the club’s transfer priorities this summer suggest he may be viewed as more of a squad player going forward.
This may also be the case at the Etihad, where he would face competition from England international teammate Kyle Walker along with Joao Cancelo.
His performances in keeping Raheem Sterling quiet during the crucial end-of-season fixtures is what is said to have alerted Guardiola’s attention to his skillset of providing excellent defensive cover alongside an attacking threat.
It is the latest signal of City’s ambitious intentions in this summer’s transfer market with the club also pursuing moves for Tottenham captain Harry Kane and Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish.
Both of those moves – if they are processed – are likely to break the British transfer record and it would be unclear if other potential moves could be assessed due to FFP regulations.
Guardiola has guided City to three Premier League titles in the past four seasons but a Champions League title has continued to prove elusive and he will be backed in the transfer market again this summer.