New Leeds United winger Daniel James admits he cannot wait to get started at Elland Road – but has looked to get off on the right foot with fellow Whites widemen Raphinha and Jack Harrison.
The Whites finally ended a two-and-a-half-year wait to land James when they paid Manchester United £25m for the winger. He has signed a five-year deal at Elland Road and he couldn’t resist a joke about his 2019 near-miss after finally signing.
James adds to the number of exciting wing options Bielsa now has at Elland Road. The Wales international is now competing with Harrison and Raphinha for a spot in the side, with Helder Costa having departed for Valencia.
Accommodating all of James, Harrison and Raphinha into the Leeds side looks a tall order. Indeed, The Athletic’s Phil Hay has opened up on the possibility of Raphinha being converted into a No 10 at Elland Road.
Another pundit, meanwhile, has argued that James could even operate as a No 8 for Leeds in central midfield.
Either way, many are expecting James to excel under the tutorship of Marcelo Bielsa.
And the winger admits he cannot wait to be coached by the Argentine. However, he has humbly told Harrison and Raphinha he doesn’t expect to pinch their places.
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“You’ve seen with the players he’s had over the years how much he’s improved them,” James told the Daily Telegraph. “That’s the thing I’m looking forward to most – seeing how he sees football.
“He obviously thinks I can fit in that system. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m going to walk into that team.
“Hopefully I can adapt quickly to the system but I think it’s going to take me a little while. It’s very tactical but he’s got a way of playing that I feel suits me.”
James admits to major Man Utd mistake
The move to Elland Road gives James a fresh start after the likes of Rio Ferdinand questioned his qualities to be at Old Trafford.
In a candid interview, though, James knows where he went wrong at the Red Devils and is determined to improve at Leeds.
“I think everyone goes through part of their career where you don’t realise something is happening. Then you look back and have good people around you to analyse that.
“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.”