With Chelsea still awaiting the final decision from FIFA regarding their imposed transfer ban, the club have been looking into the option of bolstering their forces from their own ranks. There have been several names that have popped up recently and who could be on the Blues’ list to be part of the first team next season if the ban is upheld. One such name previously thought to have no longer been on said list, is Ola Aina and the Evening Standard is reporting that Chelsea is interested in bringing him back to play in England next year.
Aina has enjoyed a good first season for Torino, who currently sit in sixth in Serie A. Able to be used both at right- and left-back, as well as at wing-back, the Nigerian international has already proven his worth to the Italian club in 29 games this season. Contrary to the mere 320 minutes the defender ever received at Chelsea, Torino is happy to give Aina every chance he can get and the player’s been continually repaying the faith invested in him under former Watford coach Walter Mazzarri.
Another name flying around has been Reece James, whose brilliant and strong performances for Wigan Atheltic in the Championship have caused many fans to clamor for him to return to Stamford Bridge and be given a genuine shot in the team. The Standard writes that actually both James and Aina could be given a chance to prove their worth next season if Davide Zappacosta is sold back to Italy and one of Marcos Alonso or Emerson were to leave.
In times when Chelsea cannot acquire any new players due to the transfer ban, it seems extremely unlikely that even only one of Alonso or Emerson were to leave and, in any case, both James and Aina’s favoured, and strongest, position is undoubtedly on the right. While the Torino loanee has frequently played on the left in the past, Aina has excelled on the right this season and, ideally, merely provides cover for the left. It’s also worth noting that he’s done so by exclusively playing as a wing-back under Mazzarri, a position and system no longer utilized at Stamford Bridge.
This is all completely disregarding the fact that the Italians actually have an option to buy the (still) Chelsea player, included in the initial loan deal worth reportedly £8.7 million. If Aina is happy in Italy and Torino want to buy him, which they seemingly very much intend to do, then Chelsea won’t be able to do anything against it. The Nigerian certainly has potential and is a very decent right-back, but it’s doubtful whether he’s got the ability to become something along the lines of world-class, as well as would want to return to the bench at Chelsea after two seasons of first team football for Hull City and Torino.
Reece James, on the other hand, has frequently shown moments of absolute sublime quality that makes one draw comparisons to the very best the game has put forth in the past, giving Chelsea hope that the academy product will offer them a solution in this position for the next decade. Add to this that the current Wigan defender is extremely versatile and can even play in both the midfield and at centre-back, if needs be, and we have quite the player on our hands.
Personally, I believe we shouldn’t have included a buy-option in Aina’s contract, though only in order to have sold him for an even higher amount. However, this decision cannot be reversed so Chelsea’s best option is simply to start focusing on one of their brightest and most talented homegrown players in form of James. Completely disregarding the outcome of the ban, the Blues should definitely hold off their interest in any other player in this position in favour of promoting one of their own, the one and only Reece James.
Written by Jimmy Funnell (@JimmyFunnellCFC).