View: Chelsea could buy Tino Livramento back from Southampton after latest Reece James injury
Reece James is in danger of missing the World Cup after he picked up a knee injury as Chelsea beat AC Milan in the Champions League this week.
The academy product was substituted at the San Siro on Wednesday (12 October) in the 2-0 win, but after initial scans appeared to show serious injury had been avoided, subsequent checks back in England have revealed further damage.
Graham Potter confirmed on Friday (14 October) that the 22-year-old will be visiting a specialist over the weekend (BBC Sport), leaving him and England boss Gareth Southgate with a nervous wait.
Last season started promisingly under Thomas Tuchel before injuries to James and Ben Chilwell derailed things, and while Marc Cucurella was signed at great expense to back-up Chilwell on the left, the drop off behind James on the other side is significant.
While the full-back turned wing-back is one of the crown jewels at Stamford Bridge having broken into the first team under Frank Lampard alongside fellow Cobham graduate Mason Mount, the club will now be cursing the fact they didn’t start that youth revolution earlier.
Southampton’s Tino Livramento, 19, as well as Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey, 22, both play the same position as James and both left Chelsea for greater opportunities in the Premier League in recent seasons.
The former never saw senior action with the Blues while the latter moved on after just three brief appearances, to give the Londoners’ academy three starting Premier League right backs at times last season.
Livramento suffered a serious knee injury which he is now nearing a return from, while Lamptey fell down the pecking order at the Amex under now-Chelsea boss Potter.
But the manager would like to have at least as an option now, as he will have to turn to 33-year-old Cesar Azpilicueta or midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek to fill in otherwise.
Neither are natural wing-backs and neither can come close to what James provides for the current world champions, so losing the star man for a significant period for a second straight season would be a major blow, after he missed nine of 13 games at the start of 2022.
The injury could still lead to the return of Livramento though, as he has a £50million buy-back clause valid from 2023 in the deal that took him to St Mary’s, which would cost Chelsea £38million due to also being in line for a percentage of any profit [The Athletic].
Todd Boehly has proven himself willing to spare no expense in the search for youth talent, particularly when it comes to the Saints, as he attempted to sign Romeo Lavia for £50million on deadline day, just two months after the midfielder had arrived from Manchester City.
Having been refused, the American is in the process of completing the appointment of Joe Shields, the man who was responsible for taking Lavia there in the first place and who had also moved from City to Southampton in July himself, as his new director of recruitment.
Additionally, Chelsea actually tried to buy the player who Livramento took over from for the south coast club, Kyle Walker-Peters, in the summer but decided against the £40million price tag [Daily Mail].
But if Livramento returns from injury successfully he would likely be a far more attractive option at around the same price, and would give Potter two strong choices at back wing-back spot.
Between Chelsea, Southampton, right-backs and youth talent there has been plenty of activity over the past couple of years, and that looks like it could continue for some time.
In other Chelsea news, Carney Chukwuemeka says move was dream come true ahead of meeting with Aston Villa.