James made a flying start to this United career following a £15m summer transfer from Swansea, scoring within minutes of coming off the bench in his Premier League debut against Chelsea and netting two more goals in his next three appearances as a starter.
His pace is electrifying and he has also managed a respectable tally of six assists in the Premier League. The Wales international even indirectly contributed to chance creation by pressing opposing defenders high up the pitch and forcing mistakes for others to pounce on.
However, James has seen his impact wane as the season has gone on. He hasn’t scored since that early flurry in August, nor has he managed any assists since the turn of the calendar year. It is not an exaggeration to say he has looked exhausted at times in the last couple of months.
None of that is his fault, mind. This is a player who, at 21, had just one season of Championship experience under his belt prior to joining United. He was signed to give the squad an extra dimension with his speed and has ended up starting nearly every game instead.
It was never supposed to be this way, but limited alternatives have made it the case.
Ohhhh Btw this is Dan James’ second season of professional football and first of top flight football and he’s our Top assister and massive in the big games. Get of his back. 🙌🏻🏴 pic.twitter.com/oJChjq5cL3— Ciaran 🏴🇾🇪 (@ThomsonCiaran) February 28, 2020
Pace is James’ greatest weapon by far. He lacks the raw technical ability to unlock defences in the same that Bruno Fernandes has shown since arriving in January, but it doesn’t make him any less of an asset if his skill set is used appropriately.
Not every winning team has to be completely flush with world-class players, as was shown time and again during Sir Alex Ferguson’s years of success at Old Trafford. And if United invest in more quality in wide areas, James could settle into a squad role as someone who can provide relief and make a difference off the bench by stretching games against tiring defences.
The club will continue the ongoing squad rebuild this summer, with Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho a priority target. His arrival would see him take over as a starter wide on the right, with a fit-again Marcus Rashford playing off the opposite flank.
90min revealed as far back as September that United are ‘confident’ of signing Sancho and will pay whatever it takes to sign the 19-year-old England star. That has since been reinforced by February reports that he is now expected to leave Dortmund this coming summer.
Jack Grealish is also a target to further strengthen in attacking areas, with the club hoping that James will be just one of many options manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has at his disposal. Despite less overall game time for him, it promises to serve both player and club much better.
Source : 90min