Chelsea captain Reece James is no longer ‘untouchable’ and the Blues could reportedly listen to ‘big offers’ for the defender, it has been claimed. Efforts need to be made to balance the books at Stamford Bridge despite the departures of several players over the last year.
James has scarcely featured this season due to a succession of injuries. A hamstring problem is likely to keep the 24-year-old sidelined for the next two months.
He has only played in eight Premier League matches this season, with Chelsea struggling in his absence. Pochettino made the England international the club captain last summer but he has been unable to take on the responsibility much this term.
When reports of a move to Real Madrid surfaced in the summer, it was claimed that James was ‘untouchable’ and the Blues would not consider a sale. However, it is now believed that Chelsea have U-turned on that stance.
According to Chelsea journalist Simon Phillips, the west Londoners could listen to mammoth offers for James if they are received. Selling academy graduates is helping the club attempt to navigate Financial Fair Play and profit and sustainability regulations.
Any money received for academy players counts as ‘pure profit’ on a club’s accounts. That helps to strike off expenditure.
It is why Chelsea have prioritised selling players who have progressed through their youth ranks in recent years, although it has not been an entirely popular choice with supporters. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi have all departed in the last year.
Newcastle have an option to make Lewis Hall’s loan deal permanent. Chelsea also attempted to sell Armando Broja on a permanent basis in January, while a suitable offer for midfielder Conor Gallagher would have been listened to.
Reports suggest that right-back James could leave if a major proposal is received. It is unclear if interest from Madrid remains, with the Spanish giants seeking a replacement for long-serving defender Dani Carvajal.
James has been unable to help Chelsea out of their horror run of form. Mauricio Pochettino’s side lost 4-2 to Wolves on Sunday, a result that condemned them to 11th place in the Premier League and a 10th top-flight defeat of the season.
Pochettino accepted that his job is not safe, although he is likely to be given the chance to defeat Aston Villa in the FA Cup fourth round replay, and then Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final.