Club-record signing Daniel James delivered his worst performance in a Leeds United shirt as the Yorkshire giants were beaten by a struggling Newcastle United side at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon.
Having cost a whopping £30m from Manchester United in the summer, the Wales international – who had long been a target of manager Marcelo Bielsa, having gone close to signing him for a third of the price in January 2019 – has struggled to make his mark at Elland Road.
And Saturday’s disaster was another reminder that he’s just not been good enough.
Jonjo Shelvey fired in a 20-yard freekick to seal a 1-0 victory for the Magpies after Javier Manquillo was brought down on the edge of the box in the 75th minute.
Perhaps goalkeeper Illan Meslier could have done better with it seeing as it flew in on his side of the goal but by no means was he at fault for their overall display.
Toothless in the final third yet again, Leeds have been pulled back into the relegation mire and now sit just seven points above the bottom three, with a couple of sides below them holding games in hand.
Bielsa was once again without his star striker Patrick Bamford, leaving James to play upfront on his own.
In 71 minutes of action, the 5 foot 7 dynamo registered only 15 touches of the ball, comfortably the fewest of any starter on the pitch for either side. For further context, Meslier managed 39 touches, whilst visiting striker Chris Wood had 50 touches, as per SofaScore.
It shows how the former United man was more involved in the game than James, despite playing the same role.
With those few touches, the Welshman managed only four accurate passes from nine attempts (44%), which would have done last weekend’s hat-trick hero Jack Harrison, top goalscorer Raphinha and others no favours whatsoever in the attack.
Whilst he also won just one of his six duels (16.6%), lost possession with nearly 50% of his touches (seven times) and to make matters worse, he fluffed two big chances – so despite barely being involved, he could’ve been the man to win it for Leeds.
Indeed, in the past, James has been lambasted as “headless” with his decision making in the final third, so it’s a really baffling decision to see him trusted as a centre-forward, especially over someone like Rodrigo, who has bundles of experience playing that very role over in Spain.
Not only did he badly fail Bielsa on Saturday afternoon but also the Yorkshire outfit as a whole. Once again, the £52k-per-week-earning 24-year-old was a sheer disappointment and he ought to have no place in the starting XI going forward.