On Tuesday, Amad Diallo made the Manchester United squad for the first time.
He may not have got on the field, but his chance will come sooner rather than later. And that could be bad news for Dan James.
The Welsh international has regularly made United’s bench this season. But there may only be a place for one winger and Diallo will have the 23-year-old in his sights.
Signed for £37.2million (BBC), the Ivorian is tipped for superstardom and United will hope to see some of that magic between now and June.
Bedding Diallo in slowly will be key for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and coming off the bench when games are already won will be sensible wherever possible. In so doing, the teenager could have the chance to leapfrog James in the pecking order.
James has been in United’s squad for 11 of the last 12 league games. Yet in that time he has racked up just 177 minutes of football.
The £18m man (BBC) burst onto the scene at Old Trafford, scoring three times in his first four league appearances. Yet he has managed just four more since then.
James was highly effective in the 6-3 trouncing of Leeds earlier this season. But he has slipped back to the periphery since then and Diallo’s arrival doesn’t make things any easier.
Two players for one role
Neither James nor Diallo is currently an option for United’s strongest XI. That will change in time, with the latter expected to justify his hefty price-tag in the years ahead. Yet, for now, both will be targeting the impact substitute role.
And that is where Solskjaer has a choice to make. The United boss named both James and Diallo on the bench for the recent FA Cup clash.
However the prospect of both coming on in one game is unlikely. Especially when you consider the other subs at United’s disposal.
If Diallo comes on and impresses, he could soon be the go-to wide replacement late in games. From there, he could well force a start. Only time will tell if James can keep up.