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WELSH WIZARD

Signing Daniel James is a no-brainer for Man United – in fact, it’s one of their smartest transfers for a while

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first signing of the summer transfer window is a bit different to the ones we're used to seeing from United

A young Welshman will be running down the wing for Man United next season.

No, they haven’t desperately re-called Ryan Giggs out of retirement (things aren’t quite that bad at Old Trafford, just yet).

And no, hopefully Ed Woodward won’t be tempted to rescue Gareth Bale from his golfing break in Madrid.

We’re of course talking about young Daniel James; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first signing of the summer transfer window.


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The 21-year-old finally moved from sunny Swansea earlier this week – putting an end to weeks of speculation – and the resounding feeling among fans seems to be one of quiet optimism and intrigue.

James was one of the breakout stars of the Championship last season, providing explosive pace and raw technical ability in the attacking-third of Graham Potter’s stylish side.

And after becoming a nailed-on first team regular around the start of the year, he finished the Swans’ campaign with five goals and seven assists in all competitions, while his standout performance in the FA Cup against Man City certainly grabbed headlines.

However, despite his undeniable talent, this isn’t the usual transfer we’ve come to expect from United, is it?

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It’s become a footballing cliche of sorts, but most of us are used to the Red Devils being linked with the game’s biggest and most marketable names.

Just last summer, they were reportedly looking at the likes of Diego Godin and Jerome Boateng, while James Rodriguez, Antoine Griezmann and Paulo Dybala remain tabloid favourites. We’re talking about established players and household names; the more brand-friendly, the better.

Who can forget the #Pogback hashtag, or Alexis Sanchez’s piano-playing last year?

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Ole’s pursuit of James is perhaps a sign of things to come from the Norwegian; that he wants to build a side of hungry, hard-working youngsters, rather than a mismatched squad of high-earning prima-donnas.

It’s perhaps something he’s adopted from Sir Alex Ferguson – the gaffer he’s attempting to model his approach on – who preferred to target younger players with much to prove, be it Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, or even Javier Hernandez, Anderson and Nani.

Like James, Fergie’s last ever signing with United was also a young, pacey winger from the Championship by the name of Wilfried Zaha.

In many ways, this feels like the kind of signing he would’ve made.

All-in-all, it’s a good piece of business for United. A no-brainer.

For £15million, he won’t feel particularly burdened by a large transfer fee, and it will allow him to develop without pressure. This will also help temper the fans’ expectations.

How Solksjaer decides to use him in the upcoming campaign will be interesting, as United have been crying out for a new right-winger in recent years, which is a position James can play. He’ll also provide competition for Anthony Martial on the left, and he can even play as a second-striker.

But considering his rise from the Championship to the top of the Premier League, United supporters may need to be patient.

Patient, but optimistic. 


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