It might be close to a month since their 2018/19 season came to a close, but it seems Manchester United are finally set to make their first signing of the summer transfer window.
According to various reports, Swansea City winger and Wales international Daniel James has passed a medical with the Red Devils, and the club are expected to announce his arrival sometime later this week. It’s not the biggest or most marque transfer imaginable, but it’s a promising start for a summer that is especially crucial for United.
Promise and potential
If there’s one thing James brings to the table, it’s hope. The Welshman was a star player for Swansea in their first season back in the Championship after being relegated from the Premier League. He had a decent return for the campaign, scoring four goals while providing seven assists, but the stat sheet doesn’t tell the whole story.
It’s the sheer amount of pace that James possesses that makes him so dangerous. In the blink of an eye, he’s gone.
The Welshman is quick on the dribble and only gets faster as he accelerates up the field. Players can learn how to improve technically, but speed like that just can’t be taught.
That makes him an ideal player in terms of how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants United to be playing. The Norwegian doesn’t bother much with possession, instead of instructing his team to be as direct as possible. James might not be the best at passing the ball around, but he certainly knows how to run right at defenders and create chaos. Those breakdowns he causes will open up space in the final third, allowing the likes of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford to thrive.
There’s plenty he needs to work on, of course. He might have raw speed, but James needs to improve on his close control dribbling. United will be playing a lot of teams who just sit back, thus negating his ability to get in behind. The Welshman also needs to develop more of a killer instinct in the final third, whether it be picking out a final pass or finishing off any chance that come his way.
Low risk, high reward
He’s obviously still very young, which is what matters. There’s time. United fans might be impatient due to the lack of success in recent season, but it’s vital the club still has a plan for the future. James has that potential and can become an integral part of the team for years and years to come.
Worst case scenario, even if James flops and fails to make it at United, then the club won’t lose out on much money.
Early reports state the fee should only be around 20 million pounds, and the club should be able to make that money back if they ever need to sell him. Just playing at Old Trafford for Man Utd is a big deal, and is a reason why a number of players who are quite poor are still playing professionally.
It’s a wonderful start to the window, but United now need to keep things going. James won't be a guaranteed starter week in and week out, and it’s likely he’ll have to settle for a spot on the bench for the first few years of his career at Old Trafford. The Red Devils need to bring in a more experienced option on the wing, someone who won’t need time to acclimate and will be able to help the team right off the bat.
There’s been plenty of negativity surrounding United at the moment, but the signing of Daniel James will help bring some much-needed sunshine to a dark and gloomy fanbase.