Where would Daniel James fit in at Manchester United?
Manchester United announced they had reached an agreement with Swansea City for the transfer of Daniel James last week for a reported fee worth around £18 million. The Welsh winger underwent a medical at Carrington on June 7 before playing in Wales' 2-1 Euro qualifier defeat to Croatia.
James is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first signing as United manager and he fits the Norwegian's target criteria as a young, British player with great potential. However, United are not lacking wingers. So would James be a starter immediately?
The case for James
James has earned a reputation for being a lightning quick, direct and hard working winger who has an eye for a pass and for the goal. His skill set perfectly fits that of United's wingers of old and is even reminiscent of his current Wales coach Ryan Giggs.
Hungary boss Marco Rossi compared James with the Brazilian Ronaldo and said his speed 'reminds him of Usain Bolt'.
No pressure then.
The 21-year-old can play on either flank but is more comfortable on the left where he can cut inside and go for goal on his preferred right foot.
It is more likely that he would be deployed on the right since United have lacked any sort of threat from that side for years. Juan Mata has attempted to play there but he lacks any sort of pace and ultimately is not a winger. The same can be said for Jesse Lingard who seems to drift infield whenever he has been asked to play that role.
If James is to play on the right then he would surely start. His electric pace is built for Solskjaer's counter-attacking style but more importantly, he is not afraid to sacrifice himself for the team, something Solskjaer has emphasized on frequently.
In comparison to United's current players
Manchester United certainly boast a number of able, attacking footballers such as Marcus Rashford, Jessie Lingard, and Romelu Lukaku but, the young Welshman is not far off their level.
James registered 10 assists in all competitions last season, that's one more than the closest United player (Rashford - 9). Romelu Lukaku (a centre forward) scored the most goals of the bunch with 15 in all competitions, James scored five from the Swansea wing
James averaged 3.1 shots a game in the Championship, Rashford only just beats that with 3.2. The former also recorded the third-highest fast breaks per 90 minutes (0.25) of anyone in the Championship, and Manchester United had more fastbreaks than any team in the Premier League (18) last season
Considering James has been playing for a mid-table Championship club, his stats are very impressive and his performances have been on par with those of United's attacking talents.
There appears no reason why James couldn't slot straight into the current Manchester United team. His pace is a nightmare for any defender and his exciting, direct approach will undoubtedly get Old Trafford on its feet once again. He's also unafraid of a shot, contrary to many of the goal-shy players at United currently.
While he still has much to improve on, James has the potential to become a key player for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side and has the attributes required to succeed in the Premier League.