Reece James admits Chelsea colleague Thiago Silva has had a huge influence on his career after moving to Stamford Bridge last summer.
The Brazil international is widely recognised as one of the word’s top defenders, despite his age. His positional sense and ability to time tackles to perfection marks him apart from his contemporaries.
James, 21, has lined up beside the South American on many occasions this term. The England right-back has enjoyed 18 league outings and 23 in all competitions.
Thomas Tuchel’s arrival has hindered his progress slightly, with the German tactician changing the team’s formation. That has seen James start just two of his first six games in charge.
Nevertheless, he remains highly thought of at the Bridge and will only improve over time. And it seems as though having a legend in the rearguard has already helped in that respect.
“I think, this season, Thiago Silva has probably influenced my career the most so far, just because he is well experienced and played at the very top of the game for the last 15 years,” he told the BBC.
“He has taken me under his wing, coached me and told me where I need to do better and where I am doing well.”
Uncertain times ahead
It is always tough for players when a new manager arrives. From being a regular, they can become fringe players and that is what has happened to James at the moment.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been moved to right wing-back, leaving James on the bench. And he cannot argue with the success it has brought, with five wins and a draw since the new coach’s arrival.
The next task is a trip to St Mary’s to face Southampton on Saturday. Chelsea will be looking to build on four consecutive top-flight victories to consolidate their top-four spot.
The race for a Champions League berth is hotting up, with six clubs realistically fighting for three places. That is assuming that Manchester City’s success continues as they are now strong favourites to take the title.
Seventh-placed Everton have two games in hand on most clubs and must be considered as top-four material. James will hope to play his part for the Blues, with plenty of football on the horizon.
The Champions League is now back under way. Tuchel’s men face the first leg of a last-16 clash against Atletico Madrid on February 23.
They are still in the FA Cup and go up against Sheffield United in the quarter-finals on March 21. Therefore James should see some game time as he presses for a place in England’s squad for Euro 2020.