Dani Alves has offered an insight into Thomas Tuchel’s plan which has transformed Reece James into one of Europe’s leading right-backs. The 38-year-old veteran briefly worked alongside the Chelsea boss at Paris Saint-Germain, where he was handed his first run of successive appearances at the heart of midfield.
Tuchel wanted to put the Brazil international into more dangerous positions — a principle which has seen James flourish since the German replaced Frank Lampard. Alves hinted that the Cobham graduate could one day follow a similar progression pathway under the Blues boss, which has already proved successful in the early stages.
The 22-year-old has grown into one of Chelsea’s primary sources of attack, seeing plenty of the ball — just like Alves once did in his prime. Speaking to FourFourTwo, Alves recollected a telling conversation with Tuchel from their fond time together in the French capital.
“I remember when he said to me, ‘Dani, it’s a waste to have you as a full-back because you’re not going to touch the ball as much as you should’,” he said. “I thought that was a great compliment. It did work well, too, as I felt comfortable in that position.”
The Cobham graduate, who despite having suffered various injuries this season, has directly contributed towards 13 goals in 26 appearances. James has grown into one of Chelsea’s primary sources of attack, seeing plenty of the ball — just like Alves once did in his prime.
Alves then added by crediting the 22-year-old as one one the world’s leading right-backs alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold and former Blues target Achraf Hakimi.
“I admire Trent Alexander-Arnold very much,” he said, speaking to FourFourTwo. “He’s a fantastic footballer — this guy has got world-class skills.
“I also like to watch Reece James and Achraf Hakimi,” Alves continued. “They mix strength with technique and are also great players. The three of them obviously have different characteristics and styles, but they all know how to do the job.”
Alves’ stamp of approval hands James a major boost in his efforts of climbing to the very top. However, while it’s promising that the England international has earned worldwide recognition for his ability, the 38-year-old’s history with Tuchel hints at the revival of a familiar role for James.
The Brazil international was trialled as an eight under Tuchel at PSG as part of his plan to get Alves into more influential positions. Equally, James has too already found his feet at the heart of midfield on several occasions, hinting at a permanent positional switch in the future under Tuchel.