Manchester United starlet Adnan Januzaj gave manager Louis van Gaal some food for thought by netting a superb hat-trick for the Red Devils’ Under-21 side against Sunderland on Monday night.
The Belgium international was the best player on the pitch, netting twice in the first half and another after the break to leave the watching Van Gaal with a major dilemma ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.
Watch: Januzaj's highlights v Sunderland U21
Januzaj struggling to find a place this season
Januzaj has played a peripheral role so far this season under Van Gaal, playing a total of 41 minutes in United’s last three Premier League matches. He played 67 minutes in the season opener against Swansea City, but only because Jesse Lingard suffered a first-half injury.
The 19-year-old was one of United’s best players last term - in an otherwise dreadful campaign for the Red Devils - and was subsequently handed the club’s iconic number 11 shirt, vacated by Ryan Giggs at the end of last season, by Van Gaal this summer.
The Dutch coach’s 3-4-1-2 formation means Januzaj, an attack-minded winger by trade, has struggled to find a role in his new manager’s system.
Januzaj wants No. 10 role
However, in an interview last week, the technically-gifted teenager admitted that he hopes to establish himself as a central playmaker.
When asked where he likes to play most, Januzaj revealed: "No. 10 of course. That's my preferred position, but I'm happy to play anywhere for the manager.
"I saw some reports saying I was unhappy. That couldn't be further from the truth.
"I love this club and I'm excited to play for this manager. The fans have been so good to me and I want to repay them."
Will Van Gaal start Januzaj v Leicester?
Despite Januzaj’s sensational display against Sunderland, Van Gaal may struggle to fit the Belgian into his starting line-up for this weekends trip to Leicester following last weekend’s superb 4-0 win over Queens Park Rangers.
With United not involved in Champions League matches, Van Gaal has no reason to rotate his best squad, and there’s a good chance that Januzaj will start the Leicester match on the bench again.
Van Gaal deployed a 4-4-2 diamond against QPR and is unlikely to drop either Ander Herrera, who drifted out to the right flank from his central midfield position on occasions or Juan Mata, the team’s No. 10 who has scored eight goals in his last ten matches.
And there’s no chance of Januzaj replacing £59.7 million summer signing Angel di Maria on the left-hand side of central midfield. The Argentina international produced a scintillating performance against Harry Redknapp’s side on Sunday.
Should Van Gaal include Mata against Leicester? Who should drop out for the Belgium international? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.