Adnan Januzaj Could Challenge for Regular First-Team Football This Season

Simon EdmondsCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14:  Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on September 14, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester United's preseason was far from an illustrious one this year. Some sloppy results and poor performances left a lot of fans perhaps unfairly concerned with David Moyes' appointment at the club and with lower expectations than usual for the season ahead.

Whether or not those qualms are justified is yet to be determined, but one bright spark that came out the summer who appears to already be living up to his early hype is the Belgian wonderkid Adnan Januzaj.

The 18-year-old midfielder shone for the Red Devils over the summer break and was rewarded as such with some first-team game time against Crystal Palace this weekend.

Coming on just moments after new signing and fellow countryman Marouane Fellaini, Januzaj turned what was slowly becoming a dull and docile conclusion to the match into a real positive for United—carving out several chances and even winning the free-kick that Rooney would later go on to convert (the first assist of many in Adnan's United career, methinks). 

Watching the game live on BT Sport, I think former United player Michael Owen summarized it best when he noted that it was as if Januzaj believed he had been playing on the left for United for years.

Being a skillful player is one thing, but if you don't have the nerve to perform on the big stage when it really matters, then that talent is wasted.

Adnan looked like a man who had been part of the United first-team setup for more than just 20 minutes, as he coasted delicately round defenders and linked up time and time again with Patrice Evra on the left side of the field—a partnership that may well surprise a few people this year.

Now, I'm not suggesting that a home game against Crystal Palace is a make-or-break fixture by any means—but for a player so young earning his first taste of Premier League football, it was remarkable how quickly he took to it.

The last time I remember a player so young having such a great impact on their debut for the first team was a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, who put in a stellar performance against Bolton Wanderers.

Before anyone overreacts, I'm not for one minute suggesting on the limited amount we've seen of Januzaj that he will ever reach those heights (and after all, the two are completely different types of players).

However, while he may not be the next Ronaldo, the Belgian certainly has exhibited the potential to become the "next" Ryan Giggs down the left flank of the midfield.

I'm adding that comparison to Giggs because I know football fans like to always say "this player is the next that player," but personally, I have always believed in the concept of individuality.

Adnan Januzaj has the ability and the time to become the first...well, Adnan Januzaj!

The boy is clearly talented, and if he can keep his head down and continue to work hard then there is no reason why he shouldn't have snatched a place on the left of the midfield away from the ever-frustrating Ashley Young by the end of the campaign

All this being said, I'd be shocked to see Januzaj get any game time this coming weekend, as United travel across the city to face the Sky Blues.

This could be a big game in the grander scheme of things and—while he demonstrated maturity against Crystal Palace—this may be a bit too much of a step up in class so early on in his United career.

Whatever the case, United fans now have two Belgian midfielders to get excited about as what will be one of the closest EPL campaigns in years continues.