Manchester United boss David Moyes feels there's a rough future in store for Adnan Januzaj unless more is done to protect the 18-year-old, insisting the youngster is becoming the target of vicious attacks from opposition defenders.
The Press Association's Simon Stone (h/t Daily Mail) was on hand for Moyes' post-match comments after Manchester United's 3-0 win at Aston Villa. When asked whether he thought Januzaj was being kicked, the Scot noted:
Just a bit. In every game, I don't know how many tackles there have been on him. That is why I am annoyed with fourth officials and referees. He is definitely not getting protected and before you know it the boy will get a sore one.
It is terrible what they (the officials) are allowing to go on at the moment. They (opposition players) are queuing up to see who can kick him next. It is a recurring theme and it's the referees' job to sort it out. You would hope they would recognise that.
It's understandable that Moyes may feel overprotective of one of his most promising assets this season, with Januzaj sticking out as one of several star performers in the 3-0 win at Villa Park.
The trip to the Midlands signalled just the second time that the young Belgian has started back-to-back Premier League games, showing hints of his growing involvement within Moyes' ranks.
It isn't the first time Moyes has called for more protection for his player, either. At the beginning of November, the Metro's James Boylan reported Moyes' ire following the alleged stamp from Sascha Riether on the teenager during their collision at Craven Cottage.
Alongside Antonio Valencia, Januzaj may be counted as one of United's most consistent wide players right now. Each of the two pitched in with an assist on Sunday, according to Transfermarkt.
Tom Williams of Agence France-Presse backed up the sentiment over Twitter, also praising the two-goal contributions of Danny Welbeck:
Man United full of pace with Valencia, Januzaj and Welbeck in the team. Rare for them to be afforded quite so much space though.— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) December 15, 2013
Per Stone's report, Moyes added of his player that: "Adnan will just get up, walk away and get on with it. That is one of his biggest attributes."
It's an admirable trait to have, too, especially when a youngster has grown up preparing himself to enter one of Europe's most physical stages.
Januzaj continues to draw in great plaudits, but missed out on this year's BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award on Sunday—beaten by shooter Amber Hill, per BBC Sport.
Ultimately, it's Moyes' choice to utilise his starlet at the deep end and hand him Premier League experience at such a young age, so preferential treatment is out of the question.
Having said that, the Scot is canny enough to know his pressure on officials might lead to favourable treatment, which can only benefit his team.