Dan James transfer - why are Man United letting him go & what is the transfer fee?
As the attacker nears an Old Trafford exit, we explain why this is a deal which suits everyone.
Daniel James looks set to swap Manchester red for Yorkshire white. Credit: Getty.
It all started so positively on that August afternoon in 2019, as Daniel James marked his Premier League debut with a goal in Manchester United’s 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea.
He scored twice more in the subsequent three games and brought that fine form into the international break where he went on to net again for Wales in a victory over Belarus.
But then it all ground to a halt. There were no more league goals in 2019/20 and just one from 13 cups games, although the seven assists from 46 appearances in all competitions did make for encouraging reading.
That was a figure which dropped to 26 games last season as the winger’s lack of cutting edge became an even more pronounced issue. In total, he started just 11 league games and with the arrivals of Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, the return of Jesse Lingard and emergence of talented youngsters, his place in the squad has come under increasing doubt.
What’s happening with the transfer?
It was widely reported on Monday that James was on the verge of a move to Leeds United, who famously tried to sign the Wales international in 2019.
A fee of £25m has been reported, although that could increase with future add-ons. Such a figure would make James the club’s record transfer.
Ironically, the attacker started against Leeds earlier this season and scored against the Yorkshire side last term.
Is there a buy-back clause?
There doesn’t appear to be such a clause inserted into the deal, which would make sense for United given that James is just 23.
It means the Red Devils will be allowing the winger to leave and seem to have no long-term plans to bring him back to the club one day.
Why didn’t it work out at United?
James struggled with the competition for places, with Mason Greenwood challenging him for a starting spot on the ring wing, while Marcus Rashford tended to operate from the opposite flank.
Ultimately, the former Swansea City man failed to deliver when given the opportunity and his final ball was too often wayward, while dribbles too frequently resulted in corners, at best.
In terms of assists, James also was ineffective and he only registered one in the league last season, while ranking 10th from all United players in goal-creating chances per 90 in the league.
It’s obvious to see why United have jumped at the £25m offered by Leeds, £10m more than they paid for the wideman two years ago.
Why is this a good signing for Leeds?
Despite the above criticisms, there can be genuine room for optimism for Leeds supporters. In James, the club are acquiring a player whose game should only develop under Marcelo Bielsa, especially if given regular playing opportunities.
He also would suit the club’s high-energy brand of football and could excel if given ample chances to attack the opposition full-back.
James’s best asset is his speed and direct dribbling. Even during a subpar showing for United, he often caused the opposing defender several moments of panic, although it regularly resulted in a lack of final product.
It’s that aspect of his game which James must look to progress and, should he do so, Leeds may have concluded an impressive deal for a player that looked destined for greatness just two years ago.