Source: Liam Canning :Forbes
Manchester United have not had their luck when it came to transfers in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. From Bastian Schweinsteiger to Radamel Falcao to Angel di Maria, the Red Devils have gone from name to name without much return in their investments.
And so it was to some relief that the club decided to tact in a different direction last summer and go down the predominantly Premier League-experienced and British route of players. In came Harry Maguire, for a world record fee, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, from Crystal Palace, and Daniel James, a player the wider public had not yet heard of from at Swansea City.
Nearly having signed for Leeds United last January, James would have even been surprised himself when Manchester United announced their interest and subsequently signed him for a measly £15 million.
Most fans, and professionals working in football, would have thought the step up from Championship football to Premier League would take an adjustment period and that the Wales international was not expected to be starting many games this season.
However, through his tenacious approach and sheer determination, let alone his quality, James burst onto the scene and scored on his debut against Chelsea, at Old Trafford. With the pressure off, James went on to score against the Eagles and Southampton in the next three weeks, carrying on his rich vein of form.
By the end of 2019, having been at the club for five months, James has racked up nine goals and assists in the league from 19 appearances. However, numbers aside, it is his work on and off the ball which is why both the fans and Ole Gunnar Solskjær value him so highly.
Fouled 2.3 times per-game, James is a key asset in Man United’s transitional play and winning fouls in important positions. Whether that is when the team are under pressure and need a way out, or in a scenario where there is a good chance for an attempt on goal, James has the innate ability to draw fouls and take one for the team.
The Welshman is the definition of a team player and works to his absolute limit from start to finish. There had been questions regarding past players’ dedication to the jersey, but the sense is that James is relishing every single moment he gets home and away and is relied upon to carry out the manager’s instructions.
While still quite raw, the wide forward still delivers a varied passing range, such as his assist to Marcus Rashford in their latest victory against Burnley.
When counter-attacking at pace, it is so easy to overshoot the pass to release the centre forward through one-on-one, but James supplied a wonderful curvaceous pass into Rashford’s feet, which enabled him the time and space to finish the transition.
For £15 million, James is easily one of Manchester United’s best signings in the past six years and will continue to improve at an alarming rate. At only 22, the Welshman’s future shines incredibly bright at Old Trafford.