Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa finally got his man in the summer but it’s safe to say, things have not gone to plan for Daniel James at Elland Road.
The 23-year-old nearly joined the Yorkshire giants from Swansea City in January 2019, having successfully completed a medical. He was even pictured holding up the Whites shirt ahead of an official announcement.
However, the move fell through at the last minute after Swans chairman Huw Jenkins blocked it. He would have cost just £10m but 18 months later, Victor Orta and co have had to fork out triple that at a club-record £30m, meaning Manchester United doubled their money.
Truth be told, the Red Devils were probably laughing their way to the bank as the Wales international never looked like setting the ground alight at Old Trafford, nor has he made any sort of improvement at his new club.
Leeds’ season has hardly gone to plan with Bielsa’s men sat 15th in the standings, only three points above the drop zone. An early worry because they finished inside the top ten last season and chairman Andrea Radrizzani has ambitions to challenge for a place in the top-six.
The Yorkshiremen have only managed to average one goal per game despite sitting inside the best six clubs for number of shots per game (14.3), so that only goes to show where their problem may lie.
Attacking players like James aren’t doing their job at all and that much is evident in the fact that he currently ranks as one of Bielsa’s three-worst performers in the squad (five or more league starts), as per WhoScored.
His returns are pretty disastrous, too.
James has only averaged 0.8 dribbles per game, meaning he isn’t getting up and down the flanks to great success at all. Similarly, four other players are managing more shots per game (1.6) and he’s not being very creative, having recorded only 0.4 key passes per game – the lowest of any attack-minded star, as per WhoScored.
There’s certainly a case to be made that Bielsa’s summer arrival is holding them back right now and the decision to let Helder Costa leave is becoming quite questionable.
The £16.2m-rated dynamo was once lauded as “explosive” and “so fast” by former United teammate Andreas Pereira, but he has failed to show why Leeds invested heavily in his services so far this season.
All pace with little end product and a severe lack of creativity, the lightweight just isn’t good enough to start right now. He must be brutally axed after the international break.