A lot has happened since Manchester United signed Dan James for £15million last summer (BBC).

The Wales international hit the ground running at Old Trafford. He scored on his United debut and his heartfelt celebration was a sight to behold.

With two more goals before September, it seemed James was an instant solution for a United side previously lacking out-and-out width.

However, in the months that followed, James has managed just one more goal. Tellingly, that was in the Europa League trouncing of LASK and, with the second leg this week, James will be hoping for another run-out.

For the first few months of the campaign, James was on fire, with five assists in a nine-game period prior to Christmas showing he could create as well as score.

(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

James’ form tailed off in 2020 – which is no big surprise given his age, inexperience and the fact that he was not seen as an immediate first-team regular when he arrived.

It was suggested United had signed James when they failed to get Jadon Sancho. So what chance the two men battling it out for the same position next season?

Europa League is perfect stage

As reported by Bild, United are working on a summer swoop for Sancho. And, given the significant cost it will take to bring the 20-year-old back to England, he is going to be one of the first names on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team sheet.


With Mason Greenwood usurping James in United’s team, the latter will know he needs to have a good Europa League to ready himself for one hell of a battle.

Given the age of James and Greenwood, rotation between the two was likely next season. However, if Sancho arrives, James could suddenly find minutes few and far between.

So, what chance a stunning end to the current campaign and a return to James’ best form?

The Europa League is the perfect stage for the 22-year-old to shine. He got that much needed goal away to LASK and is capable of filling his boots in the next few games.

First he needs to start but, with Greenwood needing a much-deserved rest, James should be called upon.

With next season coming hot on the heels of this one, the United winger will want to play his way back into the form that prompted that £15million outlay in the first place.

From there, his battle with Greenwood and – hopefully – with Sancho will truly begin.

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