EPL

James deal the latest landmark for Chelsea's young stars

By Sports Desk January 16, 2020

Chelsea secured the future of one of their brightest young talents by handing a new five-and-a-half-year contract to right-back Reece James.

The 20-year-old's breakthrough into Frank Lampard's first team this season is one of several success stories among a richly gifted crop of homegrown academy graduates at Stamford Bridge.

Full international honours are next on the agenda for England Under-21 defender James, with the experiences of his esteemed team-mates suggesting caps might not be too far away.

Even if the decision to give youth its head was in part informed by Chelsea's player registration ban during the previous transfer window, the success of his young stars means Lampard's faith has unquestionably been vindicated.

Tammy Abraham

Given his chance after a prolific loan spell at Aston Villa last season, Abraham is now firmly established as Chelsea's number one striker. The 22-year-old has 15 goals in all competitions this campaign and the recent injury setback for Harry Kane means he could yet be a pivotal figure for his country at Euro 2020. Talks over a new Chelsea deal reportedly remain ongoing.

Mason Mount

A creative midfielder with an eye for goal, Mount quickly felt like a perfect match for Lampard who took him on loan to Derby County for 2018-19 before the pair reunited at Chelsea. His transition to the Premier League has been seamless, with the 21-year-old featuring in all 22 games this season and chipping in with five goals and a pair of assists. Mount also appeared in all six of England's Euro 2020 qualifiers this term, scoring during a 4-0 win in Kosovo.

Fikayo Tomori

A classy and dominant centre-back, Tomori has taken the same path as Mount: a move on loan to Derby, where he was voted player of the season, back to Chelsea, into the first team and called up by England. Back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and West Ham concluded 11 consecutive Premier League starts for the 22-year-old, who then suffered a hip injury. A fit-again Antonio Rudiger and Lampard's willingness to switch between three and four at the back means a challenging second half of the campaign could lie in wait for Tomori, who signed a contract until the end of 2023-24 in December.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

The lavishly gifted winger made his international breakthrough last season despite Maurizio Sarri's reluctance to give him Premier League minutes. Before returning from a ruptured Achilles, Hudson-Odoi committed to a new five-year contract in September, putting lingering links with Bayern Munich to bed. His first goal in the top-flight against Burnley last time out suggested the 19-year-old could be ready for lift-off all over again.

Reece James

Like Hudson-Odoi, James also had to wait for his chance this season after recuperating from injury. Last season's player of the year at Wigan Athletic now boasts 18 senior appearances and a couple of goals – his equaliser in November's scarcely credible 4-4 draw against Ajax one that will live long in the memory. The 20-year-old's attacking prowess and vicious deliveries from the right flank have given Lampard's men a new dimension in recent weeks.

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