Adnan Januzaj….. the most famous teenager in Europe at the moment.
The 18-year-old has been on practically every football fan’s and pundit’s lips alike after his sensational double at the Stadium of Light over the weekend.
Who is he? Where has he been and more importantly, where is he from? Out of all those feverish queries, the latter is most pertinent and has received the most attention. Here’s why.
You see, kids like Januzaj do not come about that very often, these are rare talents, they are gems when discovered.
Adnan bears fantastic qualities - he is fast, he can dribble, uses both feet and has an eye for goal and best of all, he has no fear. The kid has absolutely no fear, you can see it in his play. He always wants the ball and almost always opts to run at defenders.
Against West Brom, he had the most shots on goal for United and he only played for the second half. At Sunderland, he played from the start and he looked the most enterprising of a United forward line that included Rooney and van Persie. That is some statement for an 18-year-old. His two goals were expertly taken, especially the second one, a goal that van Persie would be proud of.
However, before the red carpet is rolled out in anticipation and expectation, it must be said that Januzaj has only started one Premier League game. He could still become the next Federico Macheda, the young Italian whose late goal saved Manchester United against Aston Villa a few seasons ago before he drifted into obscurity.
He might go on to join the long line of bright young talents who have come to United, met the competition and failed miserably. Perhaps he will exit the club in a few years like David Bellion, Gabriel Obertan, Dong Fangzhuo and Manucho did, slipping into the doldrums.
He might fail. But he could also be the answer: the long-term replacement for Ryan Giggs. But all of these are just probabilities; he is not yet proven in the long-term. The potential is there, no doubt, but he still has a long, long way to go before he can be spoken of in any greater length. At the moment, all the talk surrounding him is premature and grossly exaggerated.
Now, to answer the question of where this fresh-faced, limbering teen is from…and honestly, nobody knows. There are just too many complexities. Januzaj is eligible to play for…wait for it…up to four countries. He can represent Belgium as he was born in Brussels; Albania through his parentage; Turkey because of his grandparents; and Serbia due to the disputed status of his parents' homeland, Kosovo - but only in friendlies.
As you ponder over that for a little while, England could also become his foster home in a few years through residency. If Januzaj does not play for any other national team before 2018, he will be eligible to play for the Three Lions. The fact that the FA actually enquired about this possibility is what I have a problem with.
The kid is only 18…18 years of age. Yes he scored twice, yes he has some talent, yes he scored twice (did I repeat that?), but it was his first start for crying out loud. Adam Johnson had played for more than a season and a half before anybody started talking about him, and it was not for any fault of his own, he performed on pitch, he just did not score twice on his first league start, against a struggling Sunderland and for a struggling United.
The kid is good, but not yet great, he has talent, but he is not Ryan Giggs. We all need to take a chill pill. He may be the next superstar…but he is not yet. Until that time comes, the English FA, and everyone else, really need to take a seat and switch back on the ‘sense’ button.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/130seMa