Marcel Brands will have his work cut out trying to secure deals for Andre Gomes and Kurt Zouma now that the season is over, but Football Insider understand our Director of Football also has his eyes fixed on another Chelsea prospect.
They are claiming that a source from within Finch Farm has alerted them to Brands making Reece James one of his top transfer targets, having been amazed by what the 19-year-old has achieved with loan-side Wigan Athletic.
James has been a natural right-back throughout his time in the Pensioners’ academy and for England at various youth international levels, but is also adept at centre-back and has come on strongly during the second half of the campaign as a defensive midfielder.
Latics boss Paul Cook also handed James the captain’s armband for their final game of the season at home to Millwall, as they saw out the Championship term with a 1-0 win.
As well as being named captain on the final day, James had scored and assisted three goals apiece for the DW Stadium natives in the second-tier – spread across midfield and defence – having played in all but one league fixture.
Latics players and fans alike were so impressed by what James brought to the side, that the Chelsea-loanee was named their Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and won their Goal of the Season award – James won the fan’s Player of the Year award with over 96% of the votes.
With the Championship campaign now over for Wigan, James has returned to Stamford Bridge, where his contract does not expire until 2022.
Much like with Zouma, however, the South West London side’s transfer ban could prove problematic to Brands’ chances of completing a deal, as will interest from Manchester United, and potentially Brighton and Burnley.
Our Director of Football luring James to Goodison Park could save Everton millions of pounds, though, as he is said to be seen as a star in the making who could one day replace Seamus Coleman.
Other potential candidates to replace Coleman from outside of the Toffees’ ranks appear to include Paris Saint-Germain right-back Thomas Meunier, but the Ligue 1 champions are expected to demand €30million (£25.9m) for the Belgian.