Chelsea close to taking Joe Shields from Southampton as head of recruitment

Chelsea are closing in on an agreement with Southampton to appoint Joe Shields as their director of recruitment. He is the head of senior recruitment at St Mary’s and is highly regarded by Chelsea for his work there and at Manchester City.

Shields joined Southampton in July and was responsible for signing Roméo Lavia, a defensive midfielder for £10.5m. Chelsea then had a £50m offer for the 18-year-old rejected. Lavia was recruited from City along with two other teenage talents, Juan Larios and Sam Edozie, and the 20-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.

The move made by Shields at Southampton for the defender Armel Bella-Kotchap, who was bought from Bochum in June for about £8.6m and made his Germany debut last month, is also regarded by Chelsea as a mark of his suitability.

Shields joined Southampton after nine years at City working in scouting and recruitment for their academy. He previously held scouting or recruitment roles at Crystal Palace and Fulham.

Chelsea are making changes to the infrastructure under the ownership of Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital. The club are poised to appoint Christopher Vivell as their technical director after the German was sacked by RB Leipzig and also want a sporting director.

The club have identified Norwich’s Stuart Webber as a candidate for that role. Webber has been at Carrow Road since 2013 and has previously held positions at QPR, Huddersfield, Wolves and Liverpool.

Chelsea are hopeful Reece James did not sustain a serious knee injury during their 2-0 win over Milan on Tuesday. While it is unclear if James will be ready to return for the trip to Aston Villa on Sunday, the early signs are that the right wing-back will not be sidelined for long.

James has been in outstanding form for Chelsea this season. A lengthy injury would also have caused problems for England, who are certain to include the defender in their World Cup squad. Chelsea will hope to have James available for their trip to Brentford next Wednesday, though their home game against Manchester United on 22 October could be a more realistic target.