Chelsea will loan out Davide Zappacosta back to his native Italy just two years after signing the fullback for £25m, as Frank Lampard harbours hopes of Reece James breaking through at right-back this season.
That’s according to a Telegraph report, claiming the former Torino man will join Roma on a season-long loan deal before the European transfer deadline on September 2.
Chelsea signed Zappacosta for £25million from Torino two years ago, but the 27-year-old failed to make a lasting impression under both Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri – only making 52 appearances (34 starts) across all competitions, as more of a backup option.
James, currently stepping up his recovery from ankle surgery over the summer, is expected to feature alongside Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back going forward.
Club captain Azpilicueta, 29, has been criticised for a decrease in creative output and is likely to shift into a more central defensive role as he gets older.
The hope is that James, who flourished on-loan at Championship side Wigan Athletic last term, manages to quickly assert his senior credentials and cement a first-team berth.
Expected to return in the coming weeks, the England under-20 international is highly-regarded and Chelsea themselves rejected enquiries from a reported eight Premier League clubs this summer packed with different offers – both temporary and permanent deals.
Lampard has already proven his commitment to youth by starting both Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham in the Blues’ first few games of the campaign.
Mount scored on his senior home debut against Leicester this past weekend, while Abraham finds himself battling for a starting berth with Olivier Giroud and fit-again Michy Batshuayi.
And James is expected to be handed his chance to impress once he is fully match fit.
Elsewhere for Chelsea…
Antonio Rudiger (knee) started and completed the full 90 minutes for the under-23s, during their 3-0 win over Liverpool on Monday.
Lampard was in attendance to watch, where Batshuayi netted a well-taken brace at Stamford Bridge.
Their next league game is an away trip to Carrow Road, where they entertain newly-promoted Norwich fresh after Teemu Pukki’s hat-trick against Newcastle on Saturday.