While Patrick Bamford may have been the man Leeds United fans had their eyes on during the weekend, it was their new summer signing Dan James who produced a more impressive display.
The Wales international joined Marcelo Bielsa’s side from Manchester United on transfer deadline day, and while he didn’t get on the score-sheet in the 3-2 comeback win over Belarus on Sunday, he more than played his part.
James came up with the decisive assist for Gareth Bale’s late winner that kept Wales’ hopes of qualification for the World Cup alive and was a constant thorn for the opposition defence with his tireless running and movement.
As per Sofascore, he completed the most dribbles out of any player on the pitch with four (three more than the rest of his team combined) and provided three key passes too (the same amount as the rest of his teammates).
And while he was a creative force, James’ work rate was equally impressive, winning a monstrous ten duels (only Ben Davies won more), and also making a whopping five tackles too (a joint team-high).
It was the kind of energetic and live-wire performance that surely caught Bielsa’s attention from watching at home, and would have left him drooling at the prospect of finally getting the chance to work with him – especially considering how long he’s wanted him for.
Speaking on The Phil Hay Show, Phil Hay said: “That’s a question for Bielsa because Bielsa’s forever interested in Dan James, and you probably remember last summer that before they did the deal for Raphinha, they were looking into the possibility of bringing Dan James in on loan from Manchester United.
“I don’t think it was ever really a possibility because it didn’t seem as though Solskjaer wanted him to go. I get the feeling that Bielsa will consistently be interested in Dan James because he was very big on him when Leeds nearly got him from Swansea.”
His former teammate at United, Andreas Pereira, called the 23-year-old as “explosive and so fast” in an interview with the club’s official website last season, and you saw every bit of that against Belarus.
All the raw ingredients of pace, work rate and intensity were all there and that is exactly why Bielsa would have been very excited to see James at work against Belarus at the weekend.