Manchester United’s highly-rated attacker Lauren James is said to be being tracked by European champions Lyon according to reports from talkSPORT earlier this week.
The 18-year-old is under contract at Manchester United and with the player having agreed professional terms with the club earlier this season, they have no immediate need to sell.
FA Women’s Super League Full-Time look at five reasons why Manchester United should opt against selling their prized asset should the speculation turn into a concrete offer from French club Lyon.
James knows where the goal is
Teenager James is Manchester United’s top goalscorer in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League so far this season with six goals, that’s one more than nearest challenger Katie Zelem. It is not just the goal tally which highlights James’ talents, she has directed 71% of her shots on target, a statistic that is better than Vivianne Miedema, Beth England and Pauline Bremer. There is so much more yet to come from James’ boots and letting her move on would leave a big hole in the Manchester United side.
Transfer market depreciation
The Coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the world transfer market this summer could be significant. Both men’s and women’s clubs are likely to have to tighten the purse strings and you would have to question whether Lyon’s valuation of James would be lower than what it may have been if the Covid-19 crisis had not have happened.
Manchester United are likely to command a significant six-figure fee for James if they ever see the need to cash in on the player but with the current financial value of the transfer market being particularly weak, on financial reasons alone, the Barclays FA Women’s Super League club should not do anything drastic this summer.
Stoney’s quest for silverware
Manchester United manager Casey Stoney is still looking to guide the club to a first major domestic trophy. To achieve that target, the club will need to rely on their top players and you feel that youngster James is key to any future success at the club.
The ‘big three’ in the English game boast world class players in their respective squads and the long term aim for Manchester United will be no different, to be recognised as a club who boast some of the very best world talent.
Offloading a player in James who has all of the attributes to be a world class player, and is arguably already demonstrating some of those skills, would be a step backwards in the club’s overall long term aims.
You only have to look as far back as February for an example of how a world class player can help a club win silverware. Chelsea were under the cosh against Arsenal in the FA Women’s Continental League Cup final at The City Ground in Nottingham but the brilliance of striker England saw the player clinically covert two chances to help her side over the line.
Life isn’t always brighter across the pond
Whilst former Manchester United full-back Alex Greenwood has enjoyed an element of success since joining Lyon last summer, moving to big European sides does not benefit every player.
Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps will be one player who will testify that a big move doesn’t always work out. She moved from Reading to German club VfL Wolfsburg in summer 2018 but went on to make just six appearances for the European heavyweights before returning to England. Everton midfielder Izzy Christiansen has also struggled overseas, making just eight starts for Lyon, although her progress was disrupted by injury.
At Manchester United, James is thriving from the benefit of regular starts for her club. She will only improve by playing more and more football and a move away from the Leigh Sports Village could reduce those playing opportunities, at least in the short term.
James’ current club could play an instrumental part in her development by continuing to offer regular football. They should also challenge the teenager to stay and help Manchester United lift trophies and become a major force in European football themselves in the long term. Manager Stoney may feel a duty of care towards James to keep her feet on the ground at such an early stage in her career.
Replacing James would be no easy task
James has had a big part to play in the success which Manchester United have enjoyed to date. She was a shining light in the FA Women’s Championship last season while it can be said that of all of United’s promotion winners, she has adapted to life in the top flight the best of all.
The jury is very much still out on whether Manchester United have sufficiently replaced James’ former teammate Greenwood and it would be even more difficult to plug a hole left by the attacker’s potential departure.
Goalscorers cost money and sometimes, even when clubs do find themselves a top player, it doesn’t always work out. There is no guarantee that an up and coming talent of James’ stature could be replaced at the first attempt and with Manchester United aiming for the top, selling the player could prove to be a bad move.
James was on the books of Manchester United’s Barclays FA Women’s Super League rivals Arsenal at the start of her career and she made her senior debut for the club on her 16th birthday. She joined her current side in summer 2018 ahead of Manchester United’s debut season in the FA Women’s Championship.