Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa could look to play new signing Daniel James in a surprise new role in the side, according to pundit Danny Mills.
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 Jack 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.
Mills though reckons wing wizard James could be fulfil a central midfielder under Bielsa.
“Obviously he’s a player they were tracking a couple of years ago. He’s a player who has now got a lot more experience and big-game experience. He’s worked with some big players at a global club, which bodes well.
“What I like about him is that he’s got energy, he’s got pace, fantastic fitness levels. I think he will come into this side and fit in straight away, almost immediately.
“He’s got all those attributes that you want in a Bielsa player.”
Speaking about where he could feature, Mills reckons he can see James as a No 8.
“It’s just interesting now where he’s going to fit in,” Mills added. “Raphinha could play off the right, with [Jack] Harrison off the left. Kalvin Phillips as the holding player. Then two number eights in Rodrigo and Dan James in free roles.
“Or, you could have Raphinha in one of those roles and James out on the right-hand side.
“It gives you one or two options. His energy, his quality, without being too disrespectful of the other option, Tyler Roberts, it is a big upgrade.
“The fee isn’t that bad either really.”
Leeds warned about Kalvin Phillips sale
Leeds, meanwhile, have been warned that Kalvin Phillips may be lured away by Manchester United if they do not significantly improve on last season’s effort.
Phillips, 25, was simply superb in his maiden season in the top flight.
Indeed, Phillips had already broken into Gareth Southgate’s England squad while still a Championship player.
Now a regular fixture in the Three Lions’ midfield alongside Declan Rice, Phillips continues to trend upwardly with each passing year.
But according to talkSPORT pundit Trevor Sinclair, Phillips may soon be about to outgrow his boyhood club.
“If Leeds do not really pick up this season and start threatening that top four, I think Kalvin Phillips will go,” he said.
“I was actually quite surprised that Man Utd did not have a little look at him because when you start looking at that holding midfield role, and you have got Fred, (Scott) McTominay and (Nemanja) Matic.
“For me if they have got that position right, they will have a chance at really competing for the Premier League.”