Leeds United are victims of their own success with Victor Orta’s transfer masterstrokes – Beren Cross

Wincing when it became clear Leeds United would fork out £25m for Daniel James was a perfectly understandable reaction.

Well, first of all it’s equivalent to 794 years of working at the average pre-tax salary in the UK, so there’s that, but this is football, remember.

You may have also winced because, add-ons aside, it’s taken James to within a whisker of being the most expensive purchase in Leeds United history.

Then there’s the £15m United probably would have picked him up for at the end of an initial loan in the summer of 2019, so that may have made £25m a touch harder to swallow too.

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United may have just become a victim of their own success. After picking up the likes of Junior Firpo, Diego Llorente, Robin Koch, Raphinha and Jack Harrison for between £10m and £20m a pop, expectations have been warped.

Those transfers were magnificent pieces of business in the modern market and, even if subconsciously, they have just made the James fee feel a little on the steep side.

In reality, the James deal is good business for a British player still under a lengthy contract at one of the Premier League’s richest clubs.

He plays in a different position, but England’s Aaron Ramsdale moved to Arsenal for £30m, initially as nothing more than their back-up goalkeeper.

Joe Willock, a more satisfying comparison, departed Arsenal for Newcastle United off the back of nothing more than eight goals in 14 appearances. The Magpies paid in excess of £20m for the privilege.

Adam Armstrong, an English striker, but coming from the Championship, set Southampton back £15m.

Danny Ings, an admittedly proven asset in the top flight as a prolific goalscorer, had less than one year on his Saints contract and still set Aston Villa back £25m.

Villa laid out £25m for Bundesliga winger Leon Bailey, an unknown quantity in the Premier League, and a further £33m for Championship talisman Emi Buendia.

These are the going rates and the Whites have not, on that evidence, gone overboard with a 23-year-old off the back of more than 70 appearances in a top-four side.

BBC Radio Leeds put the question of value to director of football Victor Orta on Tuesday. He said as much.

“I am not sure of this detail (becoming United’s record signing), but we have a kid that suffered a failed transfer with us, then six months later goes to Manchester United, play games in a big level,” said Orta.

“I don’t believe it will be a pressure to him. It’s (the fee) now the average of what you pay in the Premier League.

“How many wingers go this season have been cheaper than James? I don’t want to give other names.

“I don’t feel he can suffer this kind of pressure because I feel he is really confident in terms of why we want him.”

It’s down to James to now go and justify the outlay made by the Whites. Knowing how long Marcelo Bielsa has wanted this specific player only makes it feel like better value.

The financial side of the transfer market is immaterial to Bielsa. He wants to coach footballers, improve them and improve the team. The value for money comes later.

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