Adnan Januzaj Shines in Preseason Game Against Singha All-Star XI
Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj was the stand-out player in today's preseason friendly against a Thai All-Star XI selected by the directors of Singha Beer.
The 18-year-old Belgian was voted as United's reserve-team player of the season last year, and with this performance put in against the Singha XI, one can see why.
While the caliber of United's opponents was nowhere near the standard that the team will face during a Premier League campaign, it was still interesting to note that Adnan stood out as the best United player on display.
With the likes of some big names missing, including Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic, the Red Devils struggled at times to really take control of the game.
Going 1-0 down in the 50th minute, United never really looked dangerous, barely testing Narit Taweekul in the all-stars' goal at all.
This would eventually remain the scoreline at the final whistle, as United shockingly lost their first game of their tour of Asia.
As most United fans will tell you, this kind of fixture doesn't really mean a whole lot for the season ahead.
What most supporters look for in a preseason match such as this is a stellar performance from the youth talent on show.
With Alexander Büttner being substituted just half-an-hour into the tie, having never really gotten into the game in earnest, Adnan was the only real "non-established" first-team player on show for the opening hour of the game.
He took this opportunity to impress on a public stage firmly with both hands.
Below are just some of the countless positive reactions to Januzaj's performance today.
Januzaj looks a talent— Connorlomas (@Connor_Lomas) July 13, 2013
Sounds like Januzaj played a good game as I expected.— Jordan (@ElPratto_) July 13, 2013
The teenage central midfielder was given the freedom to roam in the final third of the pitch, and it was fairly obvious that this was something he thrived upon.
While the likes of Anderson and Cleverley seemed choked for any sort of room, Januzaj was constantly able to play himself into space for a pass.
He ran, ran and ran some more to find the spaces and carve out opportunities for his side.
Whether down the right, left or even through the middle of the pitch, he sprinted at defenders and took them head-on—usually to great success.
In the 16th minute of the match one such incident even warranted the classic gasp of amazement from the Thai audience in attendance, who were literally buzzing with anticipation every time the Belgian was on the ball.
Just before halftime Adnan sliced open the Thai defense with a perfectly weighted long ball over the top for Danny Welbeck.
Unfortunately for United fans, the forward couldn't convert the chance (a running theme throughout the match from the team as a whole).
Adnan's passing looked crisp and his control with a ball at his feet showcased a real raw talent.
That's not to say this was a completely flawless performance from United's new emerging talent.
Whilst his ability to work himself into a position to cross was remarkable, the final ball on more than one occasion was lacking.
This would be more of a concern if Adnan was a little older, but at the tender age of just 18 one can definitely forgive this error.
There was also an incident early on when Fabio put in a great cross only for Januzaj to opt to take a shot with his foot instead of attempting a header—which was the far more sensible option of the two.
Was Adnan Januzaj United's best player over the 90 minutes today?
Again, though, a mistake that can be put down to a lack of experience rather than anything else. The fact that he managed to find the space in a crowded area and attack the ball shows the exact right mentality.
In the second half, the pace of the game caught up with the teenager and, while still impressing, he was unable to boss the game as he did in the first 45 minutes.
However, all-in-all this was a fantastic outing for Adnan in David Moyes' first-ever game in charge of Manchester United.
We would be jumping the gun to suggest that one great showing against a Thai XI indicates that this player is a future great; but United fans certainly have been given a lot to get excited about in the form of Adnan Januzaj.
In a few seasons time we could be touting this young star as one of the first team's most important players.
Encouragingly for United, Wilfred Zaha also came on with 20 minutes left to play and struck the post following a wonderful piece of skill.
Both men look like playing an important role in the coming years.
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