Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj is ready to display his raw talent on the international stage after opting to play for Belgium at the 2014 World Cup. Januzaj was in privileged position of having the choice between different countries. He is eligible for Belgium due to the fact he was born in Brussels and Albania thorough his family’s ethnicity. Turkey and Serbia also laid claim to him. Januzaj could also have chosen to play for Kosovo but the nation is not recognized as having a FIFA-affiliated senior side. England manager Roy Hodgson even fancied his chances of wooing the player due to the amount of time Januzaj has spent in Manchester.
Januzaj has been bright star in what has been a gloomy season for United. With the Red Devils set to finish outside of the the coveted top four spots for the first time since the birth of the Premier League, only a handful of United players have had seasons to remember. Januzaj is one of them. Since scoring a brace away to Sunderland in his first full game for United back in October, Januzaj has given the Old Trafford something to hold onto in the future.
Although ex-United manager David Moyes chose to use the 19-year-old sporadically, when he has featured, fans have been on the edge of their seats. Just prior to Moyes’ departure, the Scot began to play Shinji Kagawa, Juan Mata and Januzaj in a three-pronged attacking midfield. The chemistry was there to see as they destroyed Newcastle United 4-0 at St James’ Park. Mata and Januzaj scored three of the four goals.
Although the relatively late discovery by Moyes that Januzaj should probably have featured a lot more this season than he did contributed to the Scot losing his job, interim boss Ryan Giggs is expected to use the player in the remaining few games due to the Welshman’s attacking philosophy. Januzaj will need the games if he is to be ready for the international stage and Giggs is likely to give them to him.
Although there is no guarantee that Januzaj will feature for Belgium in the World Cup finals in Brazil, the timing of the news suggests he has been guaranteed some involvement in the near future – otherwise agreeing to represent the country now makes no sense.
Of course, there are those who think the tournament is too soon for Januzaj – most notably Belgium and Everton forward, Kevin Mirallas. His argument is, owing to the fact Januzaj has left it so late to make his decision, it would not be fair on the player who misses out and who already has a relationship with the other Belgium players.
Januzaj has the remaining four games of the Premier League season and some pre-World Cup friendlies to convince Belgium boss Marc Wilmots he deserves a seat on the plane to Brazil. The general consensus, however, is that in his first season as a Premier League player, Januzaj has proved he is ready for the international stage.
World Cup Preview is an ongoing column of commentary, news and analysis of the teams and players participating in this year’s World Cup in Brazil
Commentary by Robert Shepherd