For Leeds United fans, the name of Dan James is one that previously brought a grimace. The player was all set to join from Swansea City before the Jacks pulled the plug on the signing. While Leeds United eventually got promoted regardless, they kept a close eye on the development of James from afar. The player, a Wales international, was seen as one for the future. The fact they were gazumped by Premier League giants, and eternal rivals, Manchester United, made it even more galling. Add in impressive performances against Leeds in maulings against United, and it left a sour taste in fans mouths.
Now, that sourness has to fade; James is finally a Leeds United player. Signed for a fee of around £25m in the summer, James joins the Whites as they desperately look to improve upon their impact in the wide areas. The player, who is currently away with the Welsh national team, is seen as the game-changer and the high-risk dribbler and space creator that Leeds were crying out for. After showing very impressive performances for Wales during the international break, pundits were excited to see what comes next.
After two years of inconsistency at Old Trafford, James arrives at Leeds as a more hardened, reliable option than previously. He is more durable, more capable, and likely to deliver a more focused output than he would have when he was first likely to sign.
The player looks set to have the opportunity to produce in spades this season, with Bielsa a long-term fan. Having never really fitted properly under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the arrival at Leeds under a coach with a very clear plan for every signing should offer some clarity.
Pundits, anyway, seem to be very excited.
What was said about Dan James arriving at Leeds United?
Speaking as part of the coverage for the Wales match, an exciting 3-2 victory against Belarus that seen Gareth Bale score a hat-trick, his first for Wales, pundit Ian Wright was effusive in his praise of James. He was quoted after the game as saying: “I’ve got to say, Daniel James, his output today with his tackles, his interceptions, creating chances. (I’m) very excited to see how he’s going to get on at Leeds. It was a very, very good performance from him.”
Other pundits, including ex-Leeds stopper Rio Ferdinand, was less complementary, noting the player “wasn’t United standard” (forgetting that Leeds are called United as well, of course). Former Manchester United legend Gary Neville, though, was much fairer, noting: “He’s so willing, he’s a willing runner, he never stops working. Today, the take-ons. He had the most take-ons today, creating, working back, interceptions. You watch him and he’s doing all that, and you can envisage him at Leeds and what he’s capable of doing. It’s an exciting time for Leeds and him, it will be a good move for him.”
Leeds fans, then, can probably be more excited than worried about what James can produce when he finally pulls on a Leeds shirt.