There have been questions about Dan James’ role at Manchester United since the summer.
United held onto James and rebuffed interest from Leeds, who tried and failed to sign him from Swansea in 2019.
Even leading up to this weekend’s games, there were reports about James potentially leaving in January, with The Sun reporting Leeds and Brighton are both interested.
Well if James had doubts over whether he has a future at United, he did not play like it at the weekend.
The Welshman was given his first Premier League start since October and seixed the opportunity.
Rather than nervous and lacking belief, James played with a purpose and with confidence.
This was his second goal of the season, following his strike in the Champions League against Istanbul Basaksehir.
Feeling like he belongs?
We wrote last week that there will be a variety of factors which go into whether James will go out on loan or not, including what Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo can bring to the first team.
The most important part for James is whether he is contributing on the pitch, and he has now scored in his last two appearances. If you count his game for Wales too – he has three goals in his last three for club and country.
It is something of an oddity that James has not made any appearances from the bench since the Istanbul game. His high intensity game lends itself to benefitting a team in the final 20 minutes of matches, and it was in this manner he scored on his United debut against Chelsea last year.
In any case, James has seized the last two chances he has been given, and will feel he has a place at United.
While Leeds are a side with character and a set style of play, James will see that it would be a real downgrade to head there, as it would be for Brighton.
He would be better served fighting for his place and contributing to a title challenging team between now and the end of the season. At just 23-years-old, his best is ahead of him.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shown him that while he may be a player who gets used irregularly, he is a player he has trust in.
This home fixture against Leeds was a huge game, the first league meeting between the two sides for 16 years.
He will have appreciated the show of trust from Solskjaer, and he repaid his boss.
James will be feeling as though he belongs at United right now, and will have little desire to quit and move on.
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