LIKE MBAPPE; £44M STAR IS EVERYTHING LEEDS WANTED DAN JAMES TO BE
Dan James possesses almost every attribute required to become a genuine matchwinner at Premer League level. The searing pace, the commendable work-ethic, the tactical flexibility. Unfortunately, the most important attribute of the lot – a reliable end-product – remains frustratingly out of reach for a player who departed Leeds United for a loan spell at Fulham after just one underwhelming season at Elland Road.
If James’ brain was as fast as his feet, he’d probably still be a Manchester United player today.
Instead, after just ten goals and 11 assists across the last three Premier League campaigns, the 24-year-old Wales international arrives at Craven Cottage still to prove that he truly belongs at the very highest level
But what if we told you that Leeds could replace James with another jet-heeled winger? One who possesses many of the same strengths, complete with a genuine ruthless streak in the final third?
DAN JAMES OUT, MYKHAYLO MUDRYK IN AT LEEDS UNITED?
According to 90Min, Leeds were one of many Premier League clubs who sent scouts to watch Mykhaylo Mudryk in action during Ukraine’s 3-0 UEFA Nations League defeat to Scotland on Wednesday night. And while Mudryk might not have taken Hampden Park by storm in midweek, one of the most coveted young forwards on the continent has done more than enough over the last couple of months to justify a January punt from a Leeds side willing to spend big on a player with elite-level potential.
The Whites recently failed with £35 and £43 million bids for Charles de Ketelaere and Cody Gakpo respectively, after all.
Mudryk might not be quite as well-known or well-established as either De Ketelaere or Gakpo. But a couple of outstanding performances in the Champions League, not to mention that pre-season wondergoal against Ajax, have only strengthened Darijo Srna’s argument that the Shakhtar Donetsk winger is trailing only Kylian Mbappe and Vinicius Jr in the European rankings.
“After Mbappe and Vinicius, I don’t see a third player other than Mudryk in this position in Europe,” says Srna, Croatia legend-turned-Shakhtar director. “Mudryk has crazy potential.”
“With hard work, he can become one of the best players in the history of our country,” adds Ukraine team-mate Taras Stepanenko of a man valued in the region of £44 million; Shakhtar having turned down a £30 million bid from Everton last month.
“(Does he have the) potential to win the Ballon d’Or? Why not? He has everything.”
Everything, by the way, includes a much-needed merciless streak. One Dan James, for all his endeavour simply cannot match.
Midway through the first-half, during Shakhtar’s group-stage clash with Celtic last week, Mudryk raced onto a clever through ball, showed Josip Juranovic a clean pair of heels and thumped an emphatic finish into the roof of Joe Hart’s net.
It was the sort of chance James squandered time and again in the white of Leeds United.