Manchester United youngster Adnan Januazaj has been tipped for greatness by for his former coach, David Moyes. The ex-United supremo handed the Belgium international his senior debut during the former’s ill-fated term at Old Trafford last season. However, a loss of form following the World Cup has meant Januzaj has so far been a peripheral figure in the plans of current United boss, Louis van Gaal.
Januzaj’s chances of breaking back into the first team were dealt another blow when United signed winger Ángel Di María after the World Cup. However, Moyes has tipped Januzaj to become one of the best players in Europe and compared the 19-year-old with the young Wayne Rooney he managed during their time at Everton. “Adnan Januzaj has got all that at the same age as Wayne,” Moyes told Telegraph Sport. “He’s one of the best young talents in Europe and he will go on to become one of the best players.
Januzaj has also suffered from the fact van Gaal inherited a squad with a number of players who could all play in the same position. Shinji Kagawa (now back at Borussia Dortmund), Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata were both able to operate behind the forward line, while Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young could play out wide. Although Januzaj is arguably more accomplished than the latter three, their years of experience both at international and club level made them more likely to be included in the side. The fact van Gaal has been experimenting to find his best side suggests Januzaj would have been given his chance by now. However, he continues to warm the bench with a number of United players who are also finding it difficult to prove themselves to their Dutch manager.
Moyes has kept a low profile since he was unceremoniously ousted as United manager toward the end of last season. However, despite last season being the most turbulent period in United’s recent history, the introduction of Januzaj was arguably the one bright spark in the season.
In recent weeks Januzaj has staked a claim for first team recognition. Four goals in two U21 matches have made van Gaal sit up and notice. United also had the opportunity to cash in on the youngster during the summer transfer window, but the club rejected a couple of cornet offers from Italy. Van Gaal clearly sees a future for the Belgian but is reluctant to throw him into what is currently a team that is work in progress. United currently sit in fourth place in the Premier League, albeit with just 11 points from eight matches and no away victories so far.
With players such as Di María and fellow new signing Ander Herrea used on the flanks and Mata as Rooney’s understudy behind the front two, Januzaj will never finder harder to win a place in the team. However, the youngster can take heart from the man who knows him best tipping him for greatness. Januzaj is still only a teenager and so time is on his side. He just needs to take the chance when it arises.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd