BRIGHTON have offered a stunning £10million for Chelsea whizkid Reece James — but have been flatly rejected.
The Seagulls want to give the England Under-20 defender a crack at the Premier League after a superb season on loan at Championship side Wigan.
James is the top target for new talent spotter Dan Ashworth, who came to the Amex with the remit of finding the best young players to buy.
However, the huge bid has been turned down by Chelsea, who want to keep James, 19, even though he is unlikely to play for them next season.
The news is also a blow for Crystal Palace, who pencilled him in as an ideal replacement for Aaron Wan-Bissaka if he leaves for a bigger club in the summer window.
James is happy to wait for Chelsea to decide — although his position may change if they sign another right-back in the near future.
And he is being backed to become the main back-up to Blues skipper Cesar Azpilicueta next term.
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In contrast, James has progressed every bit as well with Wigan as Chelsea would have hoped, making the Championship team of the year.
Latics boss Paul Cook has said of him: “I’m sure he will go on to have an outstanding football career, and we’re very lucky to have had him for this period to allow him to grow.”