Marcelo Bielsa’s biggest Daniel James challenge laid out ahead of potential Leeds United debut


Daniel James could make his Leeds United bow this weekend after signing on transfer deadline day.

The Whites look set to be without star winger, Raphinha, against Liverpool at Elland Road after a dispute with the Brazilian national team over the club’s refusal to release him for international duty.

Should Raphinha be prevented from featuring in the Premier League, it would open the door for James to make his long-awaited debut for Leeds.

James himself will return from international duty in the coming days after featuring in all three of Wales’ matches over the two-week hiatus.

The 23-year-old has become an important member of Rob Page’s squad, predominantly operating on the left-hand side of attack, with Gareth Bale coming from the opposite flank.


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For Manchester United, James was often used down the right due to the fierce competition in that position, though it was argued he enjoyed his performances playing on the opposite wing.

At Leeds, it’s likely James will continue on the right-wing, with Raphinha potentially moving into a more central role. If not, it will be a straight duel between James and Jack Harrison for a berth on the left.

Prior to the international break, James started two of Man Utd’s opening three matches, including their opening day win against Leeds.

The winger failed to produce any goals and assists as the shackles of the pressure of performing continued to drain his confidence. By James’ own admission, he began to play safe.

“I think everyone goes through part of their career where you don’t realise something is happening until you look back and have good people around you to analyse that,” he told the Telegraph.

“I started thinking, ‘What does he do that I can do?’ rather than thinking just about my game and being myself. It got to the point where I was being a bit safe in games.

“I got bought for my direct play, running in behind, running with the ball, trying things and not being afraid to lose the ball but slowly I started to come away from that and play a little safe.

“When I stepped back it was remembering to be direct, to be that person.

“Safe is dangerous in the position I play. You’re not there to do that – you’re there to score goals and make assists and run yourself into the ground on and off the ball.”

Under Marcelo Bielsa, the shackles will be off and James will hopefully rediscover the form that made him an important figure in the first six months of his Man Utd career.





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