Manchester United made a decision to cash in on Dan James on transfer deadline day.

James moves to a club where he can play more regularly and United free up a position where the team was beginning to get overloaded.

But even with letting James leave, United are saying goodbye to a player who made 26 total appearances in 2020/21. In those matches he scored five goals and provided two assists.

These numbers are replaceable, and United have the perfect player to step up.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United - Premier League
(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Anthony Elanga is ready

Anthony Elanga played in two pre-season matches along with Dan James and outshone him in both.

Elanga scored against QPR from outside the box and then netted a volley against Brentford at Old Trafford.

Only an injury held him back afterwards, and ensured James was able to retain his place in United’s Marcus Rashford-less XI to start the season.

James is a player with a combination of pace and strong work rate as his top two assets.

Elanga has both of these, adding in a more natural eye for goal and better dribbling ability.

Solskjaer praised Elanga’s qualities after his last pre-season appearance.

 

The United boss told the club website: “He works so hard, he’s always smiley, bright, asking what more he needs to do, he’s so hungry to improve and get better. He can play wide left, wide right, up front, so anywhere along the front line. He’s going to be an asset.”

Totally convinced

Solskjaer was so convinced by Elanga he refused to entertain any loan offers for the Sweden under-21 international.

The MEN reported on deadline day there had been enquiries but United had no interest in letting the young attacker leave.

Elanga scored for United’s first team at the end of last season and also top scored for the under-23s in 2020/21.

Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United - Pre-season Friendly
(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

While competition for places remains intense at United, Elanga can pick up some of the 1,521 minutes played by Dan James last season in all competitions.

James was a solid enough player for United but Elanga offers a higher upside.

The 19-year-old is capable of making an impact even in a star-studded team like United’s.

Elanga’s emergence could even push Anthony Martial out of United’s squad long-term if he seizes the opportunities he gets.

In the short-term, Elanga’s promising potential and progress was enough to make Solskjaer feel comfortable saying goodbye and good luck to Dan James.

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