Premier League • England

Rio Ferdinand picks Reece James for major Prem award after top display against Man Utd

Chelsea defender Reece James

Rio Ferdinand reckons Chelsea star Reece James should pick up the Premier League’s young player of the season award, especially after his great performance against Manchester United.

The right wing-back had a fantastic start to the campaign, helping Chelsea win 10 of their first 14 Premier League matches. He found the net against Arsenal, Norwich and Newcastle in that time – with a brace coming against the Magpies, too.

James, 22, has suffered with injury problems since January, keeping him out for several important league games.

He also missed the Champions League last-16 clashes with Lille, although Chelsea went through with a 4-1 aggregate win anyway.

James seems to be back to full fitness and has completed three of Chelsea’s last four Prem outings.

His best display in recent weeks came during the 1-1 draw with United at Old Trafford. Marcos Alonso put Thomas Tuchel’s side in front, only for them to be pegged back by a Cristiano Ronaldo equaliser two minutes later.

James was at his best in Manchester, showing his opponents up time and time again.

And Ferdinand thinks more performances like this one could earn the Englishman awards.

Reece James ‘important’ for Chelsea – Ferdinand

While appearing on his Vibe with Five podcast, the former defender was asked who he would pick as young player of the season. He replied (via Metro): “I’m going to go Reece James.

“I just think the importance that he has in this team, when he doesn’t play in that team now they miss him massively. He has a massive impact.

“I watched him at Old Trafford the other day. He was treating some United players like boys. That’s how good he is, how comfortable he looks now.

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“I’ve seen him on loan at Wigan playing centre-back, playing in midfield. He’s so versatile. His passing range is off the charts.

“Just his all-round general play, the composure, the physicality, his defending one-v-one. I think he’s got everything.”

Tuchel put James on the right side of a back three during the 4-2 defeat to Arsenal.

It seems the German has learnt his lesson, giving James the chance to play at right wing-back in each of the last two matches.

If the star can remain fit, then this will give Chelsea a huge boost when they attempt to improve their points tally next season.

However, they are unlikely to keep up with Liverpool or Manchester City, who appear set to dominate the league for several more years.

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