Leeds United dodged a £25m bullet by letting Daniel James leave on deadline day
There was plenty of confusion and criticism surrounding the decision Leeds made on deadline day to let Daniel James leave the club on loan.
It was just a year after the club splashed out a record fee of £25m to bring the Wales winger to Elland Road from Manchester United, but a new manager and a stronger squad meant he was no longer seen as needed.
But after struggling to bring anyone in to replace him, and eventually having to settle for teenager Willy Gnonto in an 11th hour deal, there were question marks around whether it was the right thing or not.
James joined newly-promoted Fulham on a season-long loan deal and Phil Hay has already said that it’s unlikely James will return to the first-team picture at Leeds next season.
His pace is obviously his greatest strength, while he has a great work ethic and is a tireless runner – things that Marsch usually loves in an attacking player. So why not James?
The simple answer is that there are several players better than him already at the club, and there are young players who have a higher ceiling than him with the ability to learn those traits through coaching.
But after just 51 minutes of action for his new team so far, the club are justified right now in their decision to let him leave.
James was named in the starting lineup for Wales in their UEFA Nations League clash with Belgium on Thursday night, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2-1 defeat thanks to a Kevin De Bruyne masterclass.
However he managed just 14 pass attempts in the game (with 13 successful), and was unsuccessful in the only dribble he attempted in the game.
He also didn’t attempt a single shot on goal, didn’t attempt a single aerial duel and didn’t win any tackles, according to the stats from WhoScored.
If anything sums up his career in the Premier League so far, it’s that. He’s just simply not good enough for the highest level and where Leeds want to go is in that direction.
Letting James go was the right thing to do, even if it was maybe a transfer window premature because of the lack of replacement, because he isn’t the player that Leeds fans and Marcelo Bielsa wanted him to be.
In other Leeds news, Aston Villa are facing a defensive injury crisis ahead of their visit to Elland Road