It looks increasingly likely that Angel di Maria will leave Real Madrid for Paris Saint-Germain this summer, despite Manchester United’s firm interest. But if the Red Devils are unsuccessful in their attempts to land the world-class Argentina winger, not everyone at Old Trafford will be as unhappy as Louis van Gaal - including Adnan Januzaj.
The 19-year-old, who was one of United’s standout performers in an otherwise dreadful campaign last term, now has the chance to continue his development as a first-team regular - rather than a bit-part player.
Januzaj: United’s most talented teenager
After all, the signing of Di Maria would have almost certainly left Januzaj on the substitutes’ bench for much of the 2014/15 campaign. Van Gaal would have deployed the Real Madrid superstar in the wide-left position, with Juan Mata or Antonio Valencia on the opposite flank and Wayne Rooney in the hole behind Robin van Persie.
Sure, there still would have been enough matches for Januzaj to shine - even though United are out of the Champions League - but they wouldn’t have been the club’s most important matches. Those games would have been reserved for Di Maria which, in turn, could have threatened Januzaj’s development.
Januzaj should be handed the No. 11 shirt
Anyone who watched Januzaj closely last season would have come away with the same opinion: that this is an extremely gifted youngster with world-class potential. Blessed with sublime technique, wonderful vision and a superb left foot, the comparisons with a certain Ryan Giggs are obvious.
The Welshman hung up his boots at the end of last season - along with his iconic No. 11 shirt. It remains vacant for the time being, but Van Gaal can make a real statement of intent by handing it down to the brilliant Belgium international.
Manchester United are famed for bringing gifted youngsters through and making them household names - and Januzaj, who did just that last season, deserves a shirt number more befitting his remarkable talent and reputation.
Watch: Januzaj in action for United
Manchester United save themselves £48m
It’s no secret that Van Gaal has big money to spend this summer. United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward even went on record to inform the public that the club’s new manager can, if he chooses to, break the world transfer record on a new signing this summer.
Di Maria would have cost United a club-record £48 million at the very least - and quite possibly even more. By not spending that extraordinary sum of cash, Van Gaal can focus on signing a much-needed world-class central midfielder for a similar price, while allowing Januzaj to realise his potential on the left-hand side of United’s attack.
Even if Di Maria doesn’t complete his move to PSG, Van Gaal shouldn’t be tempted to return for the South American. He might be world-class - but, at this moment in time, he isn’t needed at Old Trafford.