Former Chelsea defender Glen Johnson has urged the Blues to target Croatia and Celtic star Josip Juranovic as a potential backup for first-choice right-back Reece James. James was dealt an agonising blow in October when he suffered a knee injury in a Champions League tie against AC Milan which ruled him out for over two months.
As a result, he missed England’s World Cup campaign, but is believed to be nearing a comeback to full fitness. Nevertheless, Chelsea boss Graham Potter may be keen to add more strength in depth to the area, and he has been handed some advice by Johnson.
Speaking to Midnite, Johnson said: “Juranovic would be a great signing for Chelsea. He looks very quick and very efficient going forward, he had a great tournament for Croatia and has performed well at Celtic.
“James’ injury is not that bad for Juranovic to replace him. Juranovic would be a great backup to James, and coming from Celtic, he won’t be a £80 million player, it will be a simple deal. But I can’t see him replacing James.”
Juranovic first made the move to Celtic from Legia Warsaw in August 2021 for a fee of just £2.5m. Since then, the 27-year-old has become an ever-present in Glasgow, and earned a place in the PFA Scotland Team of the Year last season due to his impressive performances.
He also shone for Croatia at the World Cup, playing the full 90 minutes in all six of his side’s games as they surprisingly made it to the semi-finals before being knocked out by eventual winners Argentina.
Whether Chelsea follow Johnson’s advice remains to be seen, but there is hope that James could be back in time for their Premier League return when the Blues take on Bournemouth on December 27th.
Earlier this month, Potter provided an update on all his injured stars to the club’s official website. “Reece is not quite fully training but he’s integrating into training along with Wesley Fofana,” he said on December 7th. “Wesley is a little bit further behind but not too far.
“Ben (Chilwell) has come back from his individual work in Dubai and he’s now working closer with the guys but still not team training N’Golo (Kante) is a little bit further away but again he’s progressing well.
“Kepa is not quite with the team yet but has stepped up his rehab. Ruben (Loftus-Cheek) is doing some work in the gym so we’re hopeful that he can be involved next week but we’ll see how he goes.
“There are lots of players at different levels and that’s the challenge but we’re making progress so that’s the positive.”