Solskjaer always had James ‘X-factor’ in mind despite January transfer talk at Man Utd

Solskjaer always had James ‘X-factor’ in mind despite January transfer talk at Man Utd

The Red Devils boss says the Wales international winger remains an important part of his immediate and long-term plans at Old Trafford

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims Daniel James’ “X-factor” has always been in his thoughts, despite the Manchester United winger sparking exit talk during the January transfer window.

The Wales international winger is in his second season at Old Trafford, with his potential having been snapped up from Swansea during the summer of 2019.

He does face fierce competition for places with the Red Devils, as he battles to fill a wide attacking berth, and questions have been asked of his long-term future.

What has been said?

United boss Solskjaer has sought to quash any talk of James falling out of favour. After seeing the 23-year-old find the target in a 4-0 Europa League win over Real Sociedad, he told the club’s official website: “Dan has always been in my mind. Always in contention.

“You can see his X-factor, his work-rate, his pace and his running in behind teams.

“I think he’s scored in his last couple of appearances now and he’s working every single day on improving his game so I’m delighted for him and he knows how much we value him.”

James’ record at United

The jet-heeled winger made 46 appearances for United during his debut campaign, scoring four goals.

He has already matched that return in end of product for 2020-21, but has been restricted to just 12 outings.

Only 357 Premier League minutes have been taken in, with James competing with the likes of Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford for spots on the flanks under Solskjaer.

He has been making the most of recent opportunities, netting in back-to-back games against Southampton and Sociedad, and has found the net in five of his last eight appearances for club and country.

When does James’ contract run to?

United tied a promising talent to a five-year deal upon his arrival, with those terms due to run until 2024 – with the potential there for a further 12-month extension to be taken up.

He has seen it suggested that time could be spent away from Old Trafford as that agreement runs on, with Leeds still being linked with a player they came close to signing in January 2019.

Solskjaer appears to have space for James in his immediate plans, but it remains to be seen whether that stance will shift once another window swings open in the summer.

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