Rio Ferdinand says Reece James is a better right-back than Trent Alexander-Arnold after the Chelsea star’s impressive display against AC Milan.
James scored Chelsea’s third goal of the night at Stamford Bridge as he smashed the ball in at the near post, to put the icing on another virtuoso display from the 22-year-old.
Alexander-Arnold is vying with James for the England right-back spot but the Blues star is currently in possession of that place in Gareth Southgate’s side.
His display against the Serie A champions did little to suggest that won’t continue to be the case and Ferdinand explained why he believes James “is ahead” of Alexander-Arnold right now.
“On the ball, I believe he [James] is equally as good as Trent, but defensively he is a notch up in one versus one situations,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.
“That’s the difference between them at the moment. It is a great subplot for the Premier League.
“The best players have a rivalry and they will push each other. In my eyes, Reece is ahead right now, but Trent will come out of this spell and that could change.”
James managed to deal with Rafael Leao, who was Milan’s greatest threat and has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea, while providing arguably the Blues’ greatest threat going the other way.
And Ferdinand was impressed by James’ ability in both facets of the game on Wednesday.
“He was up against Leao, and if he didn’t know, Reece James knew after 10 mins he was in for a tough night,” Ferdinand added.
“I was screaming up here, James faces him up and gets left early. Then he is worrying. But in the second half he decided he would be aggressive, didn’t let Leao behind, took the ball, then Leao knew he was in for a fight.
“He also said I’ll defend you but I’ll go the other way too.”
Manager Graham Potter lauded James after the game and insisted he has potential “beyond the sky”.