Can Nick Powell Return to Manchester United Now and Perform Like Adnan Januzaj?

Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2013

WIGAN, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Nick Powell of Wigan during the UEFA Europa League match between Wigan and NK Maribor at DW Stadium on October 3, 2013 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

When comparing these two prodigious talents the similarities are clear.

Both are soaked in natural talent and have the ability to destroy an opponent with their deadly artistry. The two teenagers are both blessed with a stunning football intelligence that professionals many years their senior would love to possess.  

Nick Powell made his way into football in the famed youth academy at Crewe Alexandra, joining them at just five years old. A local boy, Powell burst on to the scene in 2011, scoring 14 times in 38 league matches, firing his team to the play-offs. His stunning strike at Wembley took Crewe to a glorious promotion. 

Powell is a unique talent, having the presence and quality to play in central midfield, but also having frightening ability in front of goal. His loan spell at Wigan Athletic has increased his reputation, after a return of eight goals in 22 matches for the club.

It was only several months ago that Powell was considered the true outstanding prospect in United's teenage ranks before the explosive entrance of Adnan Januzaj this season. The young Belgian had shown his class in the reserve team last year, but his rise to stardom in 2013 has been swift and emphatic. 

Powell needed game time after being used sparingly by Sir Alex Ferguson in his first season, but Januzaj has sparkled in the first team recently, proving that if you are good enough then you are old enough, as the "Class of 92" also once proved.

The player's form for Wigan this season has shown that he is a Premier League footballer in waiting, after scoring a number of wonderful strikes and consistently terrorizing Championship defences.

Nick Powell's wonderful overhead kick goal for Wigan recently
Nick Powell's wonderful overhead kick goal for Wigan recentlyClint Hughes/Getty Images

Ferguson was clear in his assessment of the player, when he was quoted at the start of last season

Powell is going to be a really good player who, we hope, will fill Paul Scholes's boots in terms of he's got terrific vision, good temperament, two great feet, is quick and is a great striker of the ball

Now it has suggested that David Moyes might recall Powell ahead of schedule to include him in his first team squad, or alternatively farm him out to a Premier League team to expedite his program of learning further, as reported by Rob Dawson in the Manchester Evening News.

The impression made by Januzaj has given all of United's young players a shot in the arm in terms of possible selection for the first team.

The Belgian teenager has been sensational for the Red Devils. A player blessed with the balance of Kaka and an ability to ghost past defenders, he has been Moyes' biggest individual success so far. 

So could Powell be the next one?

Januzaj's influence on the game against West Ham was clear. His position on the left is merely his starting point. His motivation to be mobile and involved constantly are shown by his dynamic heat map. He covers as much turf as he can, making him impossible to mark. 

Januzaj heat map against West Ham
Januzaj heat map against West HamSquawka

Could Nick Powell come back to United right now and show that he is Januzaj's equal, influencing games and winning football matches?

I think he can. 

Powell is the type of player that United need in midfield with immediate effect. The functionality of Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Ryan Giggs is obvious. Marouane Fellaini now faces six weeks out after his wrist operation, and Anderson looks like a former player already. The return of Darren Fletcher is a boost, but his fitness will always be in question.

If Moyes cannot find the type of midfielder he needs during the January transfer window, he has a fantastic option in being able to recall Powell. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United is pursued by Vurnon Anita of Newcastle during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on December 7, 2013 in Manchester, Engla
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

United need a genuinely creative individual to link the midfield and attack, and Powell can participate in this tactic as he learns firsthand under Moyes. Assuming that both Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa are more "trequartista" in nature, United do lack the type of player who can play as a genuine central midfielder and also score goals on a regular basis.

There is no rush to develop Powell, but his inclusion during a period of transition could be hugely beneficial to the team. He is no "normal" talent. He has the potential to be a superstar for United. 

If Januzaj can tread the boards of the Premier League and look completely at home, there are few obstacles that could stop Powell matching his initial achievements.

Moyes needs to find his "new Scholes" fast, and he may just find the solution waiting in the boots of one of his current Manchester United starlets.