World Football

Adnan Januzaj Told to Play Like Lionel Messi at Manchester United by David Moyes

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02:  Kieran Richardson of Fulham and Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Manchester United at Craven Cottage on November 2, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2013

David Moyes has told Adnan Januzaj to use the playing style of Lionel Messi as inspiration for overcoming those who wish to chop him down.

The 18-year-old was allegedly kicked and stamped on by Sascha Riether in Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Fulham. Moyes believes his emerging talent must look to the best in order to beat the bullies, per David McDonnell of the Mirror:

We've spoken to him about it. I've got to say he gets kicked up and down in training every day and gets on with it.

He's learned from the good professionals that he's got to get on with it.

He only needs to look at Lionel Messi, who is probably the best in the world at getting kicked, getting up and getting on with it and continuing to produce magic all the time.

Riether has subsequently been charged with violent conduct, per another McDonnell report, prompting Moyes to ask officials for greater protection for a youngster whose impressive dribbling style has quickly become a feature of the Red Devils’ play this season.

Januzaj has made three starts and three substitute appearances for United since the start of the campaign. On average, the player has been fouled on three occasions, per WhoScored.

Southampton and Stoke players have been cautioned for hacking him, as noted in McDonnell’s report, but Moyes wants to make sure everybody knows he isn’t comparing Januzaj to Barcelona’s four-time Ballon d’Or winner:

I'm not in any way comparing Adnan to Messi, but I'm certainly saying the way Messi gets up after being kicked, we hope that's the way Adnan continues to behave too.

But he does need a little bit of protection. Somewhere along the line, if he's going to continue playing in a fashion and style we want, he'll need to get protection from it.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02: Kieran Richardson of Fulham pulls on the shirt of Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United  during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Manchester United at Craven Cottage on November 2, 2013 in London, England.  (
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Similarities may be drawn between Januzaj and Messi’s playing style. The starlet’s ability to hold onto the ball, even when under pressure, is impressive. He’s also surprisingly quick, the kind of player who can burst away from opponents with a couple of strides.

Januzaj’s assist in the Craven Cottage match highlighted his quality when skipping away from defenders, matched by a fine pass to Robin van Persie.

United fans can expect to receive their next glimpse of Januzaj in the upcoming Champions League tie with Real Sociedad.

A win at the Anoeta Stadium all but guarantees the Premier League champions passage to the knockout stage, but after Sociedad’s recent 5-0 thrashing of Osasuna, Moyes’ men have a difficult task to wade through.

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