Update from Wednesday, April 30
Belgium boss Marc Wilmots has told Everton's Kevin Mirallas to keep his mouth shut over the potential inclusion of Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj in his World Cup squad.
Mirallas has questioned whether Januzaj has done enough to prove his quality this season, and also hinted the United man might disrupt squad harmony.
Wilmots responded when speaking to Voetbal International, (h/t Joe Ridge of the Daily Mail):
He (Mirallas) also said that if a striker is needed that Jelle Vossen (of Genk) could be likely. That's not his job. For this, he should be silent.
The rules are: you have to talk about yourself, but not the others. On the selection I decide, Kevin may have his opinion, but he should not talk about others, or how new players like Januzaj can affect the group atmosphere?
Stop talking nonsense. We have never had a problem when there is a new player. For Januzaj that will not be a problem. He has an exemplary attitude.
Adnan Januzaj has made Belgium's 27-man preliminary squad for the 2014 World Cup, as national coach Marc Wilmots includes the newly committed youngster in his plans at the first time of asking.
Januzaj recently confirmed his allegiance to the Red Devils' national team after being eligible for countries such as England, Croatia, Turkey, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo, per BBC Sport. Born to Kosovan-Albanian parents, the Manchester United starlet eventually settled on representing his nation of birth.
Wilmots indicates Januzaj is an "interesting" squad prospect after Christian Benteke was ruled out of this summer's festivities in Brazil. The national coach says he will take time to monitor his versatile player's output in training, reported by Kristof Terreur & Gerrit van Leeuwen of Sky Sports:
The fact I pick him in my initial 27-man squad for Brazil is normal, given his performances but I first want to see how he behaves on the training pitch.
I will select a squad of 26-27 players and I shall tell them: 'There's only one truth: the pitch. Come on, show me what you got.'
Januzaj is yet to play international football and may find it difficult to break into a Belgium team that possesses talents including Eden Hazard, Kevin Mirallas, Dries Mertens and Kevin De Bruyne. He could potentially reside on either wing, sit behind the striker or partner Romelu Lukaku up front in a squad that is crammed with young quality.
Mirallas, whose international playing time may be lowered by Januzaj in the coming years, suggests his potential teammate isn't ready for the upcoming World Cup, per the Guardian:
Now, like a lot of people have said, he may not deserve to come to Brazil with us because he does not know the group and he has not played much for Manchester United in recent months. In his position there are some very good players and it will be very difficult.
Januzaj has made 14 starts and 12 substitute appearances across the Premier League and Champions League this season, scoring four goals and providing three assists, per WhoScored.com. His most famous career moment came when he netted a fantastic brace to sink Sunderland 2-1 in October.
Although a fantastic dribbler of the ball and ambitious in his play, the 19-year-old remains rough around the edges. He has racked up the second-highest total of bookings for diving in Premier League history, reported by Joe Strange of the Daily Mail, no mean feat considering this is his debut season.
The youngster's defensive contribution also remains limited. Belgium are likely to need relentless energy across the pitch during their World Cup encounters with Algeria, South Korea and Russia, suggesting Januzaj may be pushed into an advanced area if he is to play.
Currently lightweight and easy to knock over, he needs extra development time before he shoulders real power.
It will be extremely interesting to see what Wilmots does with Januzaj. The exciting forward is something of a wild card if he travels to the World Cup, a player who has nothing to fear on football's grandest stage. He may also be a liability if overruled by nerves or lacking a sense of responsibility, suggesting his selection is a risk.
Either way, there's no doubt Belgium have landed themselves a future world-class gem now Januzaj is confirmed for the improving side.
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