Reece James has signed a new long-term contract at Chelsea Football Club that commits him to Stamford Bridge until at least the summer of 2025.
The defender, who turned 20 last month, has made 18 appearances for the Blues this season, scoring on his debut in our big Carabao Cup victory against Grimsby Town. More memorably, his dramatic equaliser earned us a Champions League point against Ajax in a thrilling 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge in November.
James missed just one league game on loan in the Championship with Wigan last term and claimed a clean sweep of individual honours at their end-of-season awards before his return to SW6.
He suffered an ankle injury in the summer while playing for England Under-20s at the Toulon Tournament but remained in Frank Lampard’s plans despite a three-month spell on the sidelines and has started our past three games in all competitions.
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How long is Reece James’s new Chelsea contract?
On signing his new five-and-a-half-year deal, the defender said: ‘It has been my dream to be here at Chelsea and play week in week out and to have a contract for another five-and-a-half years is living the dream again.
‘I have always wanted to be here and another five-and-a-half years means a lot to me and a lot to my family.’
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: ‘The smooth way Reece has fitted into the team so quickly despite missing the start of the season has been clear for everyone to see, and the fact another exciting young player is part of the future of the club is a result of great work by our Academy, our loans department, our new coaching staff and of course the player himself.
‘Reece started his football education with us at the age of six and his performances on loan at Wigan last season paved the way for a strong beginning to his career in the Chelsea team. We are very pleased he now has the perfect opportunity to build on that and become a major player for us for many years to come.’
When did Reece James sign for Chelsea?
James signed for Chelsea at Under-9 level having trained at Cobham since the age of six. He progressed steadily through the Academy ranks having initially started out as a striker before moving further back into midfield and defence, where he settled as a combative and energetic full-back, although those attacking instincts have remained with him over the years.
He was a key figure in our Treble-winning Under-18s season in 2016/17, with his versatility a key attribute for coach Jody Morris, who used him at right-back, wing-back and in a central defensive back three throughout the campaign. The FA Youth Cup was retained once again and James played in every game, scoring a brilliant header in the semi-final at White Hart Lane.
The Londoner continued his good form in the following campaign, captaining the youth team to another Youth Cup triumph and being named Academy Player of the Year. In June 2018, he signed a new four-year Chelsea contract and went on loan to Wigan in the second tier, where he was a huge success.
Under the guidance of Paul Cook, James was instrumental in the Latics staying in the Championship and received an astonishing 96 per cent of the votes from Wigan supporters in their Player of the Year vote.
He played at right-back and central midfield, missing just one league match all season in his first term of professional football, and won the Players’ Player of the Year award and Goal of the Season for a brilliant hit away to Bristol City.
When did Reece James make his debut for Chelsea?
After recovering from the untimely ankle injury sustained on international duty, James made his debut for his boyhood club at Stamford Bridge in our cup tie against Grimsby in September, scoring the fifth goal in a 7-1 thumping. A week later, he started in the Champions League as we defeated Lille in France, showing no signs of nerves on such a big stage.
The landmarks kept coming and he made his Premier League debut off the bench against Newcastle before his first start in the competition when we beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in November, with the young defender earning plaudits for the manner in which he kept Wilfried Zaha quiet throughout. Between those two games, he scored the most dramatic of equalisers against Ajax, capping an incredible comeback from 4-1 down and sparking delirium inside the Bridge.
On the international stage, he most recently represented England at Under-21 level and has winners’ medals from the 2017 Toulon Tournament and the 2019 European Under-19 Championship.