All you need to know about £17m Manchester United new boy Daniel James

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Daniel James has officially joined Manchester United in a transfer that marks a shift from the club’s policy for glamour names at high price. 

James has only come to prominence this past season so his profile remains relatively low, compared to some of new team-mates. 

Here, Sportsmail provides a pointer to United’s first signing of the summer.

Why has Ole Gunnar Solskjaer picked him?

Solskjaer wants to build a high-energy side and sees James’ speed as providing a tantalising component of that. 

His performance up top against Manchester City in the FA Cup was exciting and indication of being able to do it against the best defences. At a total fee reaching £20m with add-ons, bringing in James also counts as a low-cost gamble.

In addition the 21-year-old comes with glowing recommendation from Ryan Giggs, someone who should know what it takes to be a lightning winger at Old Trafford.

So Giggs has worked with James up close as well?

James has been involved in Wales squads since Chris Coleman gave him his first call-up away to Serbia in June 2017 and Giggs handed him his debut in Albania in November 2018.

Giggs then gave James his first start in March for the Euro qualifier against Slovakia and he responded by firing in the winning goal after five minutes.

‘I’ve had all my mates asking me, “What’s he like?” With the speed and temperament he has, he could play anywhere,’ Giggs says.

‘When you have that raw pace you are a threat at any level. As a winger you then have to develop the other parts of the game, which I feel he’s doing.’

Nonetheless, this feels like a rapid ascent – is he ready?

His rise has certainly been dramatic. In August 2017 he was sent back to Swansea by League One Shrewsbury after he failed to break into their first team in a three-month loan period. He had missed pre-season as he overcame a hernia but it was nevertheless a disappointing period.

James made his Swansea debut 19 months ago as a substitute in an FA Cup replay against Notts County. He scored but by the start of the 2018-19 campaign there was still a chance he might go on loan to League Two Yeovil Town. Manager Graham Potter made the call to keep him however and his faith has seen James soar.

Joe Allen, who moved from Swansea to Liverpool in similar circumstances, believes James has the mentality to thrive on such a huge stage as Old Trafford. 

‘I can only give my opinion, I think he is ready for it,’ says Allen. ‘He is a level-headed lad who has huge ability and I am sure he wants to show it at the highest level he can. I am confident he can do that.’

What have been his standout moments?

The clip of James leaving two Brentford defenders on toast while scoring a 60-yard solo goal in February went viral, providing a breathless illustration of the supreme pace in his legs.

There was also a performance against Stoke in April that Giggs attended, leaving the Wales manager taken aback. Allen, who played in opposition, describes James as wreaking ‘carnage’ that day and Giggs says: ‘It was as good a wing performance as I’ve seen in a long time, he got two lads sent off and scored a worldie.

‘Ash (Williams) ended up at right back which is one of the funniest things I’ve seen this season! The sub came on and said, “Ash, you’re going to the right” and he looked over to the bench and asked: “Are you serious?!”‘

Honestly, Daniel James is so fast the Brentford defenders may as well not have been there. pic.twitter.com/x4ZV9Oogmu

There has been sadness though too?

Football came secondary when James’ father Kevan died two weeks ago at the age of 60. In an emotional post on Instagram, James wrote: ‘There is not one day goes by that I don’t miss you. You are my inspiration and I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling now.’

James pulled out of a Wales training camp in Portugal to grieve and United told him to take as much time as he needed before they progressed with his transfer.

He showed his character by calling Giggs to say he wished to feature in the qualifiers in Croatia and Hungary and he had his United medical before flying out.

There is not one day goes by that I don’t miss you, you are my inspiration and I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. I couldn’t be prouder as a son. You have never pushed me into anything I didn’t want to, you always wanted me to do what makes me happy. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling now, I just want you to know how much I love you and how much you will be missed by all of us. You put a smile on everyone’s faces with your silly jokes and never failed to make anyone laugh. Thankyou for everything you have ever done for me I couldn’t ask for anyone better, I will make you proud I promise! RIP Dad❤️

A post shared by Daniel James (@daniel_james97) on Jun 2, 2019 at 2:55pm PDT

Didn’t he come close to joining Leeds in January?

Marcelo Bielsa might wonder what Leeds could have achieved with James at his disposal for the second half of the season, but as we know the deal collapsed on deadline day.

Huw Jenkins, then Swansea chairman, pulled the plug when he saw terms that priced the player only at a guaranteed £8.5m with minimal up-front payment. After James scorched the turf against Brentford Potter said: ‘You can see why on that performance the numbers are too low.’

Half the Premier League were looking at James after that, with Brighton, Bournemouth, Everton, and Leicester taking firm interest. Monaco made an approach too, but United seems an excellent fit.

Allen said: ‘Leeds wouldn’t have been a bad move, of course not. But it has almost been a blessing it didn’t happen because in the second half of the season plenty of clubs above that level came to the fore and that is the sort of bracket he is in now.’

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