It looks increasingly like the much mooted move to Manchester United for Daniel James is set to go through some time today, with it being widely reported that he is having a medical before flying out to join the Wales squad later today.
There was a sense of inevitability around losing one of the brightest stars to emerge from the Swans youth ranks over the last five years. The failure to offer the lightning fast winger a new contract whilst the likes of Roberts, Rodon and Grimes all got fresh deals led to the aborted move to Leeds on deadline day last January.
Huw Jenkins might have spiked that deal in a last act of (belated) defiance against the cowardly cowboys owning our club but it was clearly only a temporary reprieve. Belatedly offering the talented 21 year old a new contract was never going to be successful…he’d caught the eye of too many suitors and he and his agent held all the cards in any negotiation.
First of all I want to make clear that I do not begrudge the boy his big move – it is a massive opportunity for him and given the choice of staying at the Swans whilst the cost cutting continues in the Championship or moving to Man Utd to challenge for the Champions League spots then you can’t blame him for speeding towards that exit door.
Starved of game time?
Is it the right move for him? Possibly not…the manager that wants him is on thin ice and I can’t see Solskjaer surviving past the first international break next season. There’s also a high risk that James will be starved of game time. It’s fair to say that Dan came to the fore in the second half of last season, flourishing thanks to an extended run at first team level. There’s a huge risk that the lad’s progress will not only stall it will regress if he suddenly finds himself mainly on bench duty or back in the “stiffs”.
James has every right to believe in his ability though and he’ll back himself to make the grade at a top six Premier League side, and if he does that can only be good for our national team’s prospects.
As for the Swans – and us fans – the departure of James would be a huge loss. But a necessary one.
There’s little doubt that the introduction of James and Wayne Routledge round about December time had a massively positive effect on Graham Potter’s game plan. The sheer pace and direct running of James, complemented by the movement of Routledge, meant that we suddenly had the tools to tear defences open. It was exciting to watch and it was effective.
I’m sure I’m not alone in finding my arse leaving my Liberty seat every time young Dan received the ball in even the smallest pocket of space. It was thrilling to watch the winger in full flight and one of the joys of last season at the Liberty is set to be taken away from us.
Somehow the new Swans manager – whomever that is – will have to find a way to replace the pace and prowess of James with heavy restrictions on the money needed to do so. Could Joel Asoro step in and replicate what James gives us? Sad to say it is doubtful as the lad undoubtedly has some speed but seemingly lacks any football awareness of how to utilise it.
The departure of James – and the money it will bring in – might prove to be a reprieve for Nathan Dyer, one of those heavy earners that ideally we’d like to ship out. Maybe Dyer can benefit from the same sort of renaissance that Routledge has seen and soften the blow of a James departure?
Financial Black Hole
Of course in an ideal world we’d all like to keep Dan James. Even the clueless yee-haws that own the club must realise that the lad is a crowd puller and so would be one of the assets that we should do everything to keep in other circumstances.
Alas we are in the financial brown stuff with a significant black hole to fill and that means we need as many greenbacks brought in as quickly as possible. With a suggested fee of £15m up front and a further £3m in add ons we simply can’t turn that down, especially with the player in the last year of his contract and with little appetite to sign an extended one.
Fortunately, we now have Trevor Birch running the negotiations and so we are going to get a very good fee for a player with less than 40 first team appearances to his name, none of them in the top division. Hopefully we also have a sell on clause so we can profit if the player reaches anything like his enormous potential.
A deal up to £18m is a far cry from the £1m rising to £8m dependent on promotion reached with Leeds in January, a promotion that they blew in hilarious fashion (although Dan’s presence in their side might have made a difference? That we will never know). Clearly Jenkins knew the folly of this pathetic piece of business and sacrificed himself to stop it but the fact that the American idiots that he gave the keys to the club to would have taken that offer in a heartbeat perfectly illustrates why they should carry on being as anonymous and hands off as possible from now on.
Leave Birch handle anything of a football and financial nature; Pearlman can concentrate on his Ted Danson Look-a-Like business whilst Kaplan and Levien play Fantasy Football with DC United. With that sort of set-up all is not lost for us and we have a chance of slowly rebuilding a club on solid foundations with a secure future.
It’s just such a shame Dan James won’t be around to be part of it.