Championship

TT Battle: Callum O’Dowda vs Daniel James

A string of recent reports linking Leeds United with a move for a new winger appear to have revealed Marcelo Bielsa’s priority in the transfer market, but who exactly is the best option for the Whites at this moment in time?

Leeds’ decision to bring Kiko Casilla to Elland Road this month represented a huge coup at a crucial moment in the club’s race for promotion, but with options wearing thin in midfield they will need to add at least one outfield player to maximise their chances of returning to the top-flight.

Jack Harrison’s and Ezgjan Alioski’s inconsistency this season combined with Bielsa’s desire to deploy Pablo Hernandez in a creative number ten role have forced the Argentine to turn his attention to wide midfield players, with Bristol City’s Callum O’Dowda and Swansea City’s Daniel James both cited as key targets for the club (as per Yorkshire Evening Post).

The fact both players would have to be signed from a Championship rival will be giving Victor Orta a headache on the negotiating table, but which talent would be the better option for Leeds at this stage?

Let’s take a look at two promising wingers who have been tipped to join Leeds this month…

Callum O’Dowda

The 23-year-old Ireland international has made his way up from Oxford United to play for a promotion-chasing Championship outfit, and his performances at this level have clearly caught Bielsa’s eye.

O’Dowda prefers to operate on the left-wing and take on his opposite number close to the touchline on his favoured left-foot, but he also possesses a strong awareness of when to slot infield to unsettle the opponent.

Incredibly hard-working, technically astute and constantly improving, O’Dowda is exactly the type of player Bielsa would want at the club, but his recent decision to extend his contract with Bristol city may well have deprived Leeds of sealing a deal which would undoubtedly have enhanced their promotion bid.

O’Dowda’s decision to agree fresh terms and damage Leeds’ chances of securing a deal could represent a dagger to the heart of their promotion bid.

TT Grade: A- 

Daniel James

Daniel James is a player fitting a similar profile to O’Dowda, albeit with significantly less experience in the Championship.

The 21-year-old is currently halfway through his first full season at this level whereas O’Dowda has played 81 times in the Championship, and the difference in experience could be telling.

James’ performances this season, which have seen him notch a single goal and provide four assists in the Championship, hint that he has a bright future ahead of him, especially if he is given the opportunity to thrive under a manager of Bielsa’s expertise.

At this moment in time James is the most likely option for Leeds to pursue, but his inexperience could count against him at a club where stakes are high with promotion in sight.

TT Grade: B+

The Verdict:

If both players were available at the same price it’s fair to say that O’Dowda would get the nod over James, but Bristol City’s cunning decision to offer him a new contract has shifted the dynamic.

The new deal will inevitably drive his price-tag up this month towards a figure which is likely to be beyond what Leeds can afford to splash out, leaving Bielsa and Orta in a position to go all out for James.

As a fellow promotion-rival, Swansea will naturally be reluctant to sell James before the window slams shut, but Leeds’ obvious pulling power could make all the difference in their pursuit.

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