Leeds United chief aims second dig at Swansea City over Daniel James' Man Utd transfer

By Mathew Davies

Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear has aimed another tongue-in-cheek dig at Swansea City as he opened up on getting the Daniel James deal over the line.

The Whites signed Wales star James on deadline day in a £25million move from Manchester United.

It was a transfer two-and-a-half years in the making, with Leeds first trying to sign the winger on loan from Swansea in January 2019.

James travelled north to complete a medical and the finer details on his contract only for Swans chairman Huw Jenkins to change his mind at the 11th hour.

The 23-year-old subsequently stayed in south Wales for another six months before transferring to Old Trafford that summer for a £15million fee.

READ MORE: Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Ian Wright all make same point over Daniel James' Leeds move

Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds finally got their man last month and Kinnear said ahead of their Premier League clash with Liverpool on Sunday that the deal - and Leeds' interest - had been in the pipeline for some time.

"It is no secret that Daniel has been rated highly by Marcelo and Victor (Orta) for the last three years, with a belief that there is a strong fit between his technical ability and our playing style," he wrote in the club's programme.

"From an administration perspective it was less than ideal that an agreement was only struck on deadline day and there was a distinct feeling that failure to complete the paperwork for a second time would begin to look careless.

"Fortunately, the mobile phone reception was stronger in Manchester than it was in south Wales."

It is the second subtle poke in the ribs at Swansea's expense.

After finally landing the signature of James on August 31, Leeds had a dig at Swansea on social media.

"The phone lines are open," read a post on the Whites' official Twitter account, which included a picture of the club's director of football Victor Orta.

In a separate tweet, they wrote: "The call has been answered!"

James' move across the Pennines has been hailed a win-win scenario for all involved by United legends Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and former Arsenal striker Ian Wright.

Swansea benefitted too, with the club receiving a financial boost from the negotiations.

Former Swans chairman Jenkins explained why he thought the initial deal for James was not in the club's best interests when interviewed by WalesOnline last year.

"When I was first invited to run the club the directors gave me a lot of freedom," said Jenkins.

"We had a good system in place, they had trust in me and provided good support. People like Martin Morgan, Leigh Dineen were excellent.

"With the changes gradually more and more people were getting involved. I recall with Dan James there were six people interfering, trying to make a decision that day.

Daniel James pictured with a Leeds United shirt before the 2019 deal fell through (Amazon Prime - Take Us Home: Leeds United)

"I was told a deal was in place for Dan to go to Leeds. It made no sense to me, not for Swansea City financially because there was nothing in it for us.

"As much as others felt the deal could have been done and we could have got something out of it, to me Dan going up to Leeds at the time, risk injury, us rely on a summer transfer, was wrong. I wasn't even sure Leeds would pay the loan fee until the summer.

"I spoke to Graham Potter about it. Remember, part of his mantra was to bring through younger players while making the team competitive. Dan was an important part of that. Graham wanted him to remain until the end of the season and play for Swansea. In playing regularly for us, we felt we would get more value out of any future deal.

"Not just for the club financially, but for Dan himself. And, of course, he has done really well at Man Utd and also for Wales. Whether he is playing well or not, Dan has this inner spirit, believes he is a good player. That’s important, you need that mentality as a Manchester United footballer.

"So Swansea City got a much bigger transfer fee, Dan got a better move. That Leeds business was the final thing I did as Swansea chairman, my parting shot if you like, the last involvement. Although, of course, shortly after I left they also got £20m from Sheffield United for McBurnie.

"We got Dan for £75,000 from Hull, Oli for £100,00 from Bradford. Not a bad bit of business."

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