Bielsa signing has seen value plummett by £15m

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It is fair to say it has been a rather turbulent period for those at Leeds United, with the Whites having witnessed a string of managerial changes over the last 12 months as well as a change in ownership, amid their tumble back into the Championship.

After three years in the top flight – following a prior 16-year absence from the Premier League – the Yorkshire giants tumbled into the EFL following a limp attempt at staving off the drop, having even made a desperate move to place Sam Allardyce in the dugout in the dying embers of last season.

Such an unsettled spell has ensured that new boss Daniel Farke has been tasked with trying to steady the ship despite the raft of outgoings that have departed Elland Road this summer, with the German tactician set to clear up the mess that was made by the likes of Jesse Marsch and Victor Orta in recent times.

That’s not to say that promotion hero Marcelo Bielsa is also not without blame, with the beloved Uruguayan having played his part in assembling a squad that was ultimately not fit for purpose for life in the top tier.


While not a reign littered with mistakes, one error that the experienced coach may well have made is the signing of Wales international, Dan James, with the misfiring speedster having seen his value plummet since his initial 2021 arrival.

How much was Dan James worth at Swansea City?

It is no real secret that Bielsa and Leeds had attempted to sign the promising forward prior to his eventual switch to Yorkshire two years ago, with a move for the then-youngster famously collapsing back in January 2019.

At the time, it looked as if the aforementioned Orta had struck a deal with Swansea City for an initial temporary switch that would include a £1.5m loan fee and a subsequent £7m obligation to buy, with further add-ons taking the total package to around £10m – if Leeds were to be promoted.

Despite even going as far as to pose with the shirt of his prospective new club, James’ hopes of moving to Elland Road were dashed as the Swans pulled the plug at the death on deadline day, sparking fury from the interested party.

Any hopes of resurrecting the deal were then dashed swiftly as James was snapped up by rivals Manchester United later that year, joining the Old Trafford outfit for a reported fee of around £15m.

How much did Leeds pay for Dan James?

Despite enjoying a fine start to life in Manchester – after netting three Premier League goals in August 2019 alone – the Hull-born winger was unable to truly establish himself as a consistent presence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

While the diminutive ace did make 26 top-flight starts during his debut season, that was followed by just 11 starts in the competition in the following campaign as he quickly tumbled down the pecking order – notably being dubbed “headless” by pundit Darren Bent due to his at times erratic approach.

Dan James career record (all comps)




Manchester United




Swansea City








Shrewsbury Town




Leeds United




Stats via Transfermarkt

Those shortcomings – which saw James net just nine goals in total for the Red Devils – did not seemingly put off those back at Leeds, as Bielsa finally got his man at the tail-end of the 2021 summer window.

Not a club renowned for making a profit on players, United – who were only recently named the European club with the highest negative net spend in relation to funds recouped by player sales – were able to demand more than their initial £15m investment, with the Whites agreeing to fork out £25m to finally clinch the deal.

How much is Dan James worth now?

It is hard to argue that the 25-year-old has proved worth the wait as far as Leeds are concerned, with the pacy wideman having notably been shipped out on loan to Fulham last term, after just a solitary season in Yorkshire.

That had come amid a debut campaign that saw the 45-cap international record a respectable, albeit unspectacular tally of four goals and five assists in 37 league games, having been utilised as a makeshift central striker at times in 2021/22.

While that shift into an unsuited central role may have been part of the problem, James never looked truly at ease at Premier League level, with ex-Leeds man Ian Harte providing a stinging criticism of his failings in 2022:

“Let’s be honest, if he didn’t have the pace, he wouldn’t play in the Premier League. He doesn’t have the knowledge or the know-how. It’s just head down and run. He’s got unbelievable pace, but like Adama Traore, he needs to learn to slow his legs down to get the cross in.

“The majority of games I’ve seen, they end up going over and across the crossbar. Signing him from United for 25 million when they had him for four million – he’s done ok, he’s got raw pace but I’m not a massive fan.”

Dan James

Also described as a being like “a headless chicken” at times by Leeds content creator, Conor McGilligan, James hardly fared much better during his time with the Cottagers, scoring twice in just 20 league outings – only five of which came from the start.

That sharp decline has ensured that the one-time Shrewsbury Town man is now worth just €12m (£10m) – according to Transfermarkt – representing a £15m drop on his £25m transfer fee from just two years ago.

How has Dan James performed this season?

Currently sidelined with injury, the £50k-per-week asset had started the first three Championship games of the season from his left-wing berth, registering an assist in the 1-1 draw with Carlos Corberan’s West Bromwich Albion side.

That display had arguably been ‘one of his best games for Leeds in a very long time’ – according to Leeds Live’s Beren Cross – with it something of a shame that James has not been able to kick on due to his subsequent injury setback.


After previously scoring six times and registering ten assists in only 39 games during his time at the Liberty Stadium, perhaps a return to the second tier may be what he needs to truly kickstart his Leeds career, after two seasons of frustration.

There is still time for that career revival to occur, yet James – to date – has been a largely underwhelming acquisition for the club, with that plummeting valuation a sign that Bielsa may have spent unwisely by prising the 5 foot 7 enigma from the Theatre of Dreams.

#Bielsa #signing #plummett #15m

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