It was early November when the comparison was first made as Joe Cole, speaking on television after Chelsea’s 4-4 draw against Ajax, explained how Reece James’s crossing technique was a lot like David Beckham.
Referring to watching him train during a tour of America, the former Chelsea midfielder said: “We were having a shooting session and the kids’ shooting was erratic, but James was on the money, on the money, whipping crosses, it was like watching Beckham.”
Fast-forward to yesterday’s comfortable win over Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round and it was hard not to come to the same conclusion as the right back sent in a succession of tasty deliveries that bothered the visitors’ defence.
There are a number of parallels to be drawn in terms of technique. On top of a similar outswing, the exaggerated left arm movement and the way he leans back when connecting with the ball are uncanny when you watch videos of both back to back.
It makes you realise that not only was Cole bang on the money too but the likelihood is that James spent significant time studying the former England captain’s greatest skill during his developmental years.
Against Forest James produced nine crosses and if it was not for Michy Batshuayi’s lacklustre finishing the the 20-year-old should have had another assist to his name.
Below is a breakdown of each delivery, highlighting the similarities with Beckham.
James sends a teasing cross in from the right that bounces once in front of Batshuayi but the Belgian is unable to get a foot to it.
Ball is laid back by Callum Hudson-Odoi. James’s cross is headed away by Forest centre back Tobias Figueiredo.
Fed by Andreas Christensen, the right back swings another purposeful ball towards Batshuayi, who heads over.
His worst cross of the afternoon, struck too deep after…