Manchester United look set to make Daniel James their first signing of the summer – and though he may not be the kind of name fans were hoping to see arrive, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about him.
The twice-capped Wales international is expected to move to Old Trafford in a £15million deal, and as a rapidly quick, direct, winger, he offers plenty of the attributes United supporters enjoy and have often missed in recent seasons.
Here are a few of his clips from the 2018-19 season to whet the appetite…
United were often at their most dangerous on the counter-attack under Sir Alex Ferguson, but the days of them breaking from their own box to score seem a long time ago now.
James, however, could help to change all of that, and there is no better example of the threat his blistering pace poses than the brilliant solo goal he scored to help see off Brentford in the FA Cup in February.
With the score tied at 1-1, James blocked a shot 25 yards from his own goal and was onto the loose ball like a flash. But still, he was comfortably inside his own half when he picked it up and surely not an immediate threat.
Except one touch later and he was through the middle of two Brentford defenders and soon leaving them for dead. At the other end of the pitch in a matter of seconds, he showed he’s not all pace and no brains either, steadying himself to calmly slot home before anyone could get a tackle in.
It doesn’t matter what the level, that kind of pace will always be useful.
Look at the pace from Swansea’s Daniel James…😅⚡️⚡️⚡️pic.twitter.com/2Tdp0P0se3
— Mozo Football (@MozoSports) February 17, 2019
After James’ brilliant swerving strike helped Swansea to a 3-1 victory over Stoke in April, Graham Potter described the 21-year-old as “above Championship level”.
“I have run out of superlatives to be honest,” Potter said. “It was his fourth game in 11 days. His ability to run, his desire to run, his courage and then his quality – we are just lucky to witness it.”
Perhaps even more useful than his goal on the night were the two red cards James effectively inflicted upon Stoke, his pace twice forcing full-back Tom Edwards to bring him down and receive two bookings before another burst saw him brought down by Bruno Martins Indi, who was also given his marching orders.
James has been a known quantity in the Championship for quite some time and looked set to sign for Leeds in the January transfer window, but the move broke down after Swansea pulled the plug and the Welshman now looks set for better things.
Not overhyping him or anything but Daniel James might just be the best player I’ve seen 😂 pic.twitter.com/d7DJeHbH3x
— ManUnitedZone (@ManUnitedZone_) May 10, 2019
James’ efforts have not gone unnoticed by the Welsh national team either. Ryan Giggs handed him his international debut against Albania last year, and in March James scored his first international goal in Wales’ Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia.
Once again, his pace played a part, but his speed of mind to spot a possible opportunity and his desire to make sure he made the most of it were equally key as he intercepted a poor touch before smashing his effort past Newcastle keeper Martin Dubravka – a brilliant way to announce himself on the international stage.
In Giggs and his Wales team-mate Gareth Bale, James has two great mentors to guide him on the path to becoming a world class winger.