When David Moyes was appointed Manchester United manager in 2013, he took the club on their annual summer tour; this time to the Far East.
Since there had been little or no major transfers at this time, it was an opportunity for Moyes to look at the squad he had, and the young talent coming through the ranks.
Most eyes were on young Wilfried Zaha who was bought by Sir Alex Ferguson before he retired.
United’s performances and results on tour hinted at things to come, with the Red Devils losing two matches to Singha All-Star XI and Yokohama F Marinos.
Instead of Zaha, it was another name that found its way into the starting lineup; a certain young Belgian winger by the name of Adnan Januzaj. He was the silver lining in Asia and impressed with his performances.
Catches Moyes’ eye
Moyes would continue to fail in his transfer targets and only end up with a peculiar £27.5m deadline day signing of fellow Belgian Marouane Fellaini.
However, Januzaj’s quality continued to impress him.
His balance and guile drew comparisons to a certain Dutch legend by the former Everton manager.
‘He’s a wonderfully gifted player with great balance and the ability to go past people. When I see his poise on the ball, he has characteristics of Johan Cruyff.’
United ultimately had a disastrous season under David Moyes and finished in 7th position in the Premier League. It seemed the Scot had never really won the dressing room.
But the performances of Adnan Januzaj, along with Wayne Rooney were two highlights. The young Belgian was given an improved contract and also included in Belgium’s 2014 World Cup squad in Brazil.
Times were good indeed for young player who could’ve also represented Albania, Turkey, Serbia or Kosovo.
When David Moyes was sacked towards the end of the 2013/2014 season, Louis van Gaal arrived that summer bringing with him a host of big name attacking talent; such as Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera, and Angel Di Maria.
Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie remained. Old Trafford already looked a bit crowded for Januzaj.
The 2014/2015 would see Januzaj struggle with injury and form; he’d score no goals and make very few starts for the club.
This was forgivable considering he was still a young teenager. He was allowed a quieter second season after the blistering first.
The following season Januzaj make a good start, scoring his first goal for a year away to Aston Villa, yet despite that Louis van Gaal still felt he had better options available to him.
Adnan was sent out on loan to German giants Borussia Dortmund for more game time.
Things didn’t exactly go to plan in Germany for the Belgian either. He lacked consistency and fitness and failed to start a single league match.
It was no surprise that his loan spell was cut short. When leaving he was blasted by manager Thomas Tuchel about his lack of commitment and poor attitude when speaking to Sportbild –
“It is a pity he did not show the desire and attitude you need to progress at his age. My feeling was that he never was completely with us, that a part of him always stayed in Manchester and he compared everything here with United.”
No faith from Mou
When Jose Mourinho took over at Manchester United in 2016 this was potentially the clean slate the winger needed. But Mourinho too was not keen on him.
Before long, Januzaj found himself again on loan; this time at Sunderland, ironically under his muse David Moyes.
Yet again, he failed to recreate any of his early United form, becoming part of Sunderland’s relegation. Even Moyes commented on the poor attitude issues of the former starlet.
“Adnan’s general fitness is low and I want more from him. If he wants to go back and play for Manchester United he has to show it here.”
Needs a restart
Recently Manchester United look open to offers for Adnan Januzaj, with Real Sociedad interested.
A complete restart maybe what’s needed for him. It looks like a case of too much, too soon for the Belgian.
At 22, he’s still very young, and perhaps the money and hype so early on made him lose hunger. David Moyes still clearly believes in his former protégé.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Manchester United took him back and gave him a new contract. He’s the best technical player. He’ll have a big future.”
The former is unlikely to happen according to reports, but don’t be surprised if the latter turns out to be true.
If Manchester United do sell Januzaj, expect there to be a buy-back clause in the contract.
Written by Nicholas Behan
Follow Nicholas on Twitter @NicholasBehan
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