Former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has raised serious doubts over Reece James’ credentials to be captain. He claims the right-back is not the right type of leader needed for his old club to become successful again.
James was appointed captain by Mauricio Pochettino ahead of the start of the season. He replaced the long-serving Cesar Azpilicueta who left to join Atletico Madrid in the summer.
James suffered a hamstring injury on the opening day of the season and only returned to the starting line-up in last week’s Carabao Cup clash win over Blackburn. He started the dramatic 4-1 win over Tottenham in the Premier League on Monday and appeared to get through unscathed.
But Mikel does not see the type of leadership on the pitch that he was used to at Chelsea. The Nigerian won two Premier League titles and the Champions League during his time at Stamford Bridge, with John Terry his captain.
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Mikel told talkSPORT: “I know Reece James is a captain and he’s a fantastic player, but when I watch him on the pitch he’s not vocal. I remember when John Terry used to come up to a player and grab you by the neck and be like ‘wake the F up, we’re about to lose a game here’.
“I don’t see that here. Nobody even talks to each other. Nobody corrects, nobody screams at each other. How are you going to win games?”
James came through the academy at Chelsea and has made over 150 appearances for the club. Speaking in August, Pochettino claimed he was the best person to take on the armband.
He said: “I think he’s not only a player that can be a leader, because he’s a leader with his character, his qualities. He’s a person also that’s going to be the future of the club.
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“He came through the academy. I think for us, for me and for the club, he’s a perfect player, person, to be a captain.”
He added last month: “Why did I choose him as captain? Because of his personality, his leadership, the respect he has from the club and his team-mates and he has my full respect also.
“Chelsea is in his DNA and when you see the squad he is not only for the present, he is for the future and in this moment Chelsea need someone like that.”
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