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Reece James named Chelsea captain ahead of new campaign

Chelsea have announced Reece James as their new captain following the departure of club legend Cesar Azpilicueta.

The 23-year-old will wear the armband after Azpilicueta ended his 11-year association with the Blues to join Atletico Madrid on a free transfer earlier this summer.

James has spent the better part of seven years on Chelsea’s payroll, having initially joined the club as a six-year-old.

The England international full-back progressed through the academy ranks before establishing himself as a vital part of the Chelsea first team.

James has racked up 147 appearances for the Blues, registering 11 goals and 20 assists. He is recognised as one of the best right-backs in European football.

The Chelsea hierarchy have been preparing him for a leadership role at the club, and the defender finally gets to live his boyhood dream.

“I’m so happy to take on the role and responsibility,” said James. “I know I’ve got big shoes to fill because we have had huge captains here in the past, but I am excited.

“I have been at Chelsea pretty much my whole life. I started here when I was six, and to come through the academy is tough. But to go on and become captain, it’s a great feeling for me and my family.”

James had a season to forget last year, picking up just two goals and two assists in 24 appearances across all competitions in a campaign derailed by recurring injury problems.

The former Wigan Athletic loanee will hope to put his injury problems behind him and make an impression this season as Chelsea bid to restore their image as a footballing powerhouse following an appalling campaign.

James could lead out Chelsea for the first time as club captain when they host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in their Premier League curtain raiser this weekend.

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