Adnan Januzaj was one of the few bright sparks in a dismal 2013-2014 season for Manchester United. David Moyes gave the young Belgian winger his chance and he grasped it with both hands, proving to be one of United’s most exciting and consistent players over the course of the season.
His displays at club level even earned him a place in Marc Wilmots’ Belgian world cup squad where he got an international appearance under his belt. The world seemed to be his oyster. However, since Louis Van Gaal was appointed as United manager, things haven’t gone so well for the young starlet.
Coming to United aged just 16, Januzaj was widely touted as the clubs most exciting young talent. He impressed at both U18 and U21 level before eventually getting a call up from Moyes. He made his debut coming off the bench against WIgan Athletic in the Community Shield and his first league appearance soon followed against Crystal Palace.
He went on to make 35 appearances in the season, scoring four goals in the process. Januzaj was one of the first names on Moyes’ team sheets, providing some flair and unpredictability to a United team who were playing anything but exciting football. A lot of faith was put in him when he inherited Ryan Giggs’ famous No. 11 shirt and supporters hoped he could live up to the hype.
This season, things haven’t gone quite so well for him. Having made just nine appearances, it seems as though Van Gaal is having trouble fitting him into a system they are both comfortable with.
Luck hasn’t been in his favour either. When Van Gaal did put his trust in him and started him at the Etihad stadium in the Manchester derby, he had to be sacrificed for Michael Carrick once Chris Smalling was sent off. He was given the opportunity to start against Chelsea at Old Trafford as well but fans were left frustrated at a below par performance from the Belgian youngster. Januzaj has seemed slow and predictable so far, two attributes that no one would have associated with him last year. Have defences have sussed him out?
It is obvious that Van Gaal is willing to give youth a chance in his first season at United. Tyler Blackett, Paddy McNair and James Wilson have all featured for the Dutchman having come through the ranks at United. Van Gaal, however, has made it clear he will, first and foremost, do what is best for the team rather than an individual. He hauled off Paddy McNair after just over half an hour against Southampton, proving his ruthlessness and his eagerness for the team to come first.
There is talk of Januzaj linking up with Moyes again on loan at Real Sociedad and, given his start to the season, it may not be a bad move for the youngster. An opportunity to play first team football on a regular basis could be just what he needs to get him right back into Louis Van Gaal’s thoughts and fighting for that starting spot at United.
It may be that Januzaj’s development has not gone quite as well as expected, performances this season may attest to that. It is obvious his progression has slowed tremendously and it could be time for United to send him away.
There is definitely extreme talent where Januzaj is concerned. However, the brutal fact is that he just hasn’t been good enough this season. It would be ideal for him to go to a fellow Premier League team in a type of move that benefited Danny Welbeck but are there any takers? It doesn’t seem so.
If Moyes is looking for a reunion, why not? Hopefully, after half a season of first team football in Spain, Januzaj comes back a better, more experienced player and one that deserves a place in Louis Van Gaal‘s XI. Right now, he is a long way off.