Chelsea’s appointment of Graham Potter in the managerial role has not gone to plan, with the west London outfit currently tenth in the Premier League, level on points with Aston Villa, and facing a dizzying task in mounting a late charge toward Champions League qualification.
Indeed, Chelsea’s most recent match in the Premier League, a 2-0 defeat at the hands of heated rivals Tottenham Hotspur, left the Lilywhites perched a remarkable 13 points above their neighbours in fourth place, and given Potter’s record in charge of the Blues leaves him with a points-per-match (PPM) average of just 1.31, it certainly does not seem likely that a late surge will materialise, subsequently narrowing the currently towering gulf.
Bearing this in mind, there might just be fruit for owner Todd Boehly in his reported interest in signing a new man to lead from the dugout, with former Spain and FC Barcelona boss Luis Enrique earmarked as a replacement.
According to reports from Spain earlier this month, Enrique is indeed attracting attention from the Blues hierarchy, with the 52-year-old currently unemployed after resigning from his post as the head of the Spanish national team after falling to Morocco at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
What impact would Enrique’s appointment have on Reece James?
Enrique enjoyed heaps of success with Barcelona, and given his pedigree, the “headstrong” – as hailed by ESPN’s David Cartlidge – boss could be the perfect remedy to cure Chelsea’s current woes.
And with his prospective appointment, he could start to nurture and develop Chelsea’s expansive pool of talent to a new level, with thriving right-back Reece James perhaps benefitting more than most.
Should Chelsea appoint Luis Enrique?
Hailed as ‘the complete full-back’ by one tactical analysis, James has become an integral component to his outfit over the past several seasons, scoring 11 goals and providing 20 assists from 139 appearances for Chelsea, notably winning the 2020/21 Champions League; the profound impact on his squad has been illuminated by recent reports that he is being prepared for the future captaincy role at the club, donning the armband against Tottenham on Sunday after Thiago Silva went off injured.
And considering James ranks among the top 9% of full-backs in Europe’s top divisions for goals, 7% for assists, 4% for progressive passes, 7% for successful take-ons and 7% for shot-creating actions per 90, he clearly boasts the acumen to solidify himself as one of Europe’s superlative forces in his position.
That said, he boasts just two goal involvements in the top flight this term from 11 matches, a far cry from the five goals and nine assists he managed last season.
Thus, the £250k-per-week phenom is far from his best but he could be re-born under Enrique, potentially even growing into a player of the illustrious Dani Alves’ mould, who the Spaniard managed over several seasons for La Blaugrana.
Indeed, Alves made 94 displays under the manager, recording an impressive 20 direct contributions and playing a starring role in the momentous and historic treble of 2014/15.
Lauded as one of the most renowned and revered full-backs of his generation, Alves’ offensive impetus and winning mentality are arresting elements to his game that could quite easily be attributed to James’ own, and as he continues to grow into his skin there is no reason why he cannot emulate an icon who played some of his best years thanks to Enrique’s winning formula.
Even Potter’s most stout supporters could not be incredulous if the former Seagulls boss was to be relinquished from his duties at the helm of the Chelsea ship, with no respite in sight from the woes that pile ever heavier with each passing match week.
With a manager of Enrique’s ilk waiting in the wings, Boehly might just swallow his pride and appoint a man who would be the club’s third permanent boss of the term.