Who: Daniel James
From Where: Swansea
To Where: Manchester United
For How Much: £15M
Grade for Manchester United: B
Grade for Swansea: B+
Daniel James to Manchester United Overview
Of all of the moves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was speculated to make under his first transfer period with Manchester United, this, uh, wasn’t one of them.
That doesn’t mean that this isn’t the type of move OGS should be making.
Getting a talented young winger at a low cost, in fact, is the exact opposite kind of move that Man U has been making in recent years.
If this is a trend on how OGS plans to rebuild Man U, this is a positive first step.
Who is he?
Daniel James, 21, showed promise in the Championship for Swansea this year.
In 38 total appearances across all competitions, James scored five goals and added 10 assists. He particularly shined in the FA Cup against Brentford and Manchester City. He had the fourth highest WhoScored rating for Swansea this year.
The speedy Welsh winger cooled off some later in 2019 (in part due to injury). Regardless, rumored top-flight interest had been bouncing around all year.
James began his youth career at Shrewsbury Town before coming to Swansea. He’s made two national team appearances for Wales, scoring once.
The connection of James to United is also easy to follow. James plays for the Welsh national team under Man U legend, and former OGS teammate, Ryan Giggs. No doubt Giggs’ opinion weighed heavily on OGS’ decision.
Is the price fair?
From a pricing perspective, this is a solid deal for both Swansea and Manchester United.
In February, Transfermarkt pegged James’ value around $3.42M USD. He sold for approximately $19M USD. That’s a good price for Swansea.
Given how clubs are getting smarter on how they’re spending money–and locking players into deals so they benefit from their prime years–
£15M / $19M on a five year deal ensures United see the best to come from James. If he turns out to be a top flight producer, he’ll still be young enough to lock into a second deal that will see him through his prime.
What impact should we expect?
This is harder to figure out, at least in the short-term.
Does this mean United is considering shipping out Romelu Lukaku as has been rumored? Does this mean Man U is considering a full on clearing of the decks and reboot with a youth movement?
It’ll be easier to weigh James’ impact once we know more about the above two questions (particularly the Lukaku one). However, as more of a facilitator then technical finisher, James could provide a boost to the productivity of United gem Marcus Rashford. He just won’t replace the goals Lukaku (in theory should’ve) produced.
The only minor knock I can make on this deal is: if United are looking for more scoring upside, the player with the highest WhoScored rating for Swansea this year was forward Oliver McBurnie. The Scot tallied 22 Championship goals this year to James’ four. His market value of $5.7M isn’t far from James, and McBurnie is just approaching his prime at 23 years of age.
While the move is a great first step by Manchester United of moving away from their bad habits, it just might not have been the right Swansea player. For that reason they get a B instead of an A.