Adnan Januzaj Must Be Included in Manchester United's Future Plans
Go ahead and let that sink in.
Flash back to last Saturday. It didn't seem possible, but it sure appeared as though David Moyes' debut season was about to get even worse. After managing Manchester United to an embarrassing home defeat to West Brom and the club's worst start in Premier League history, Moyes' Red Devils entered the locker room at the Stadium of Light trailing Sunderland, the bottom-feeders of the table, 1-0.
It was another flat, disinterested, poorly defended—outside of David de Gea's Save-of-the-Year candidate—45 minutes of football from the defending champions.
The second-half savior wasn't Wayne Rooney. It wasn't Robin van Persie. It wasn't Nani, Danny Welbeck or Javier Hernandez.
It was an 18-year-old making his first-ever Premier League start—a young Belgian who has the face of a baby, the body of a high schooler, the mentality of a stone-cold killer and the raw, electric talent of a burgeoning superstar.
Januzaj, who was the most lively player in the first half, continued that effort in the second, scoring two sublime, technically masterful goals to propel United to the 2-1 victory:
In addition to the two finishes that required world-class timing, precision and ability, Januzaj, according to WhoScored.com, had three shots on target, completed a match-high five dribbles and had a pass success percentage of 86 as he looked like the most dangerous attacking player on the pitch.
Most 18-year-olds just try to stay out of the way and not make many mistakes. Januzaj was transcendent and quite possibly saved Moyes' job.
It's clear at this point he needs be a constant fixture in the first team for Manchester United, a side in desperate need of an energetic spark as well as some attacking creativity.
But perhaps even more importantly, Moyes needs to lock down Januzaj for the long term.
According to Januzaj's agent, via the Daily Mail's Adam Crafton, the youngster, whose contract expires after this season, has attracted plenty of interest from European clubs:
I’m not going to say which teams are interested in him, but I can tell you that there is interest from several European clubs,’ De Vriese is quoted as saying in an interview with Voetbal Niews.
The departure of Sir Alex Ferguson meant that there was a break in the negotiations. We are back working on the calls and will see how it goes.
Adnan’s family have given me the permission to communicate. As it is only me involved, there can be no misunderstandings in the media.
United is far from a selling club, but supporters have certainly been down this road before with the departures of young, prospering talents—most notably and recently with Paul Pogba.
Januzaj is too talented and has too much potential for the Red Devils to let him follow that path.
Fortunately for United, the club has the perfect tool to convince the youngster to stay in player/coach Ryan Giggs.
The Welshman, some thousand years ago, was in a similar position as he made his first Manchester United league start as a 17-year-old, scoring the lone goal (albeit thanks to a deflection from Colin Hendry) in a victory over Manchester City.
Over 20 years later, he is now one of the most decorated players in club history with 13 Premier League and two Champions League titles.
Manchester United should...
It's certainly far, far too early to compare Januzaj to Giggs, but the two have reportedly established a strong connection and Giggs is in the perfect position to sell the youngster on Old Trafford—if necessary.
Januzaj is already special and has already proven to be ready for the big stage. What's scary is that, in terms of physique and experience, there is still lots of room to grow.
Unless he wants to lose one of the most tantalizing teenagers in the world and alienate one of the world's most vehement, passionate fanbases in the process, David Moyes can't afford to let him do that for another club.
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