Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino admitted that he has earmarked Reece James as one of the potential candidates for the captaincy following long-time skipper Cesar Azpilicueta’s departure this summer.
Azpilicueta had been with the Blues since the summer of 2012 and was named the club captain by Frank Lampard following Gary Cahill’s departure seven summers later.
The Spanish defender holds the record for most appearances in a Chelsea shirt for a non-English player and moved to La Liga side Atletico Madrid on a free transfer after an eleven-season-long spell.
One of the tasks facing Pochettino is the need to find a new captain to replace Azpilicueta’s influence on and off the pitch.
The Argentine manager faced the media with James ahead of the Blues’ pre-season fixture against Newcastle United as part of the Premier League Summer Series in Atlanta.
Upon being posed the inevitable question, the 23-year-old was named by Pochettino as a possible present and future captain of the West London club.
A right-back by trade, James came through the famed Chelsea academy and has spent the majority of his professional career with the Blues, barring a season-long loan spell in the Championship with Wigan Athletic.
According to the former Tottenham Hotspur coach, James knows the club in and out, having progressed through the youth levels with the Stamford Bridge outfit.
The Argentine also admitted talks with James from day one about the latter’s objectives and performances with the Blues during the past few seasons.
According to Pochettino, James fit the profile of a captain at the club and would be given due consideration when it comes time to choose the next leader among the players.
The Argentine’s exact words, as reported by Football London, were, “He [James] is one of the possibilities. We are talking from day one about his objectives and how he was in the last few years at the club. He feels Chelsea, he came from the academy. He is one of the profile and players that can be the present and future captain of the club.”
One statistic sure to worry the coach would be the England international missing a total of 146 days and 25 games across all competitions for Chelsea last season.
By contrast, Azpilicueta was almost an ever-present for the Blues, never missing more than four games in a single season since the cruciate ligament tear suffered while at Marseille in the 2010-11 campaign.
With the other captaincy candidates remaining nameless for the time being, James presently looks like the best bet for the armband and will look to usher in a new era of success at Stamford Bridge.