Chelsea defender Reece James is establishing himself as first-choice at Stamford Bridge ahead of Blues legend Cesar Azpilicueta. The England international has opened up on how Liverpool star Andy Robertson made him look at his game and make a key change.
Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold at Anfield have changed the way full-backs are looked at in the game.
Jurgen Klopp’s side relies on the duo to provide a massive amount of assists and an attacking threat in every game they play.
Alexander-Arnold and Robertson were key in helping Liverpool to the Premier League title last season.
And James has admitted watching the Scotland star has influenced him to focus more on the attacking threat he can provide.
He told The Athletic: “Over the past five to 10 years, the full-back position has progressed a lot.
“My toughest opponent has been Sadio Mane. He is one of the best wingers in the league, if not the world.
“He is strong, quick, good on the ball and one of the toughest to play against, and then you also have (Mane’s Liverpool team-mate) Andy Robertson on the outside.
“It used to be about defending but now it is about not only being very good at defending but offering a big attacking threat.”
James didn’t always start as a defender though and his idol was Didier Drogba growing up.
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The right-back was an attacking player as he grew up before transitioning to full-back.
“My hero was Didier Drogba,” he explained.
“I played up front and he was the man at Chelsea, so I wanted to be like him and completely idolised him.
“Then I went into central midfield, until I was around 14 or 15. I had a good spell there and got used to it.
“But it then got to a stage I wasn’t really playing and there were loads of midfielders in the team and the right-back position was free at the time. That’s how I found myself there.”
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James also revealed Thiago Silva has had a big influence on him since his arrival at Stamford Bridge this summer.
He added: “Thiago has brought a lot of experience. I have played alongside him a few times now. He has helped me a lot.
“You can see straight away why he has been one of the best in the world.
“He constantly talks to me throughout games, helping me in my positioning, directing me and making sure he is talking to me before, during and after games. It all adds up and improves performances.”
Chelsea return to action after the international break against Newcastle on Saturday, November 21.
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