Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that Daniel James is likely to make his debut for the club against Liverpool on Sunday.
The Whites had a fairly inexpensive summer transfer window on the arrivals front. They made Jack Harrison’s loan deal from Manchester City permanent, while bringing in Junior Firpo. Still, ex-Manchester United winger James proved to be their most costly acquisition of the window.
The 23-year-old almost signed for Leeds in January 2019, but the move collapsed at the final hour.
He signed for the Red Devils in the following transfer window and spent two years at Old Trafford. However, he was never a crucial player for United, something he will be for Bielsa and Leeds.
“The decision to bring in James was the correct one by the club,” Bielsa said (via Leeds Live).
“He will be available this weekend. He’s a player who can play on either side that combines his ability to unbalance the opponent and passages into empty spaces considering his speed.”
James could come in in a straight swap for Raphinha, who could be ineligible this weekend.
Indeed, he is one of eight Brazilian Premier League stars to have received five-day bans from FIFA – asked for by the Brazilian FA – for not participating in the international break.
However, the players – which include three from Liverpool – and clubs feared quarantine after visiting countries on the UK government’s coronavirus red list.
Doing so would mean staying in a hotel for 10 days upon their return, missing matches and training.
Aside from the new travel problems the pandemic has caused, though, Bielsa reiterated his frustration at international breaks.
Bielsa believes football going to waste
“Imagine a coach receives a player after he has flown 20 hours then has to play Thursday, Sunday and Thursday again. Impossible for him to do anything other than pick who plays,” Bielsa said.
“We have to play no matter what. That’s impossible for it to end up well. It ends up making the play between the team every time worse.
“To ignore the preparation and rest needed is absurd. To ignore the effect on players and long hours of flying, that will injury any player, so clearly there is no way to resolve this by protecting football.
“They protect the commercial arm, but the game goes unprotected. Football is going to waste in such a way and there will be time when it becomes less attractive.”
Leeds have yet to win in the Premier League this season, picking up two draws and losing their other game.