Manchester United starlet Adnan Januzaj has revealed that he is desperate to impress Louis van Gaal and ensure that he is playing as many first-team games as possible this season.
Amidst rumours that his position at United is under threat following a number of big-money arrivals Januzaj bagged a hat-trick for the Red Devils’ U21 side last night, and admitted he hoped Van Gaal, who was in attendance, took note of his defensive endeavours.
The Belgian international was part of the team which comfortably beat Sunderland U21s 4-0 at Old Trafford, only 24 hours or so after the senior team had defeated QPR by the same scoreline. And, though he was only afforded an appearance from the substitutes bench on Sunday, his performance for Warren Joyce’s team won’t have hurt his chances any.
A splendid outing was capped by a sublime hat-trick, as Januzaj showed just why he’s been a mainstay in the United first-team squad for the past year, despite the fact he’s only 19. Three goals will most certainly have given Van Gaal food for thought, and the youngster confirmed post-match that he was looking to play to the best of his ability and improve, even if he’s forced to play at reserve level.
"I tried to do my best," he said to MUTV.
"Obviously, even if it's reserves level, I always have to show myself and improve. I got a hat-trick but I think I worked hard defensively as well and these are the kind of things I have to do now and at first-team level.
"Of course, I played a lot of games last season and I'm trying to impress the manager once again and get games again this year as well."
Though Januzaj has long been lauded by United fans are the latest in a long line of brilliant talents to come through the academy at the club, recent speculation has paved way for concerns over his long-term future at Old Trafford.
A number of alarming reports have suggested that he may eventually seek an exit to continue his development elsewhere if Van Gaal can’t promise him the game-time he was afforded last term, with the acquisitions of Radamel Falcao, Daley Blind and Angel Di Maria having added further competition to his position.
The starlet himself also conceded that he is playing entirely for himself as he looks to work himself into Van Gaal’s favour, with last night’s showing an indication of what he’s capable of on an individual level.
“I think I do it myself," he said.
"I don't do it for any other people but for myself. I look after my [performance]. Even if I have to play Under-18s, I have to do it and try to improve every time I play."
Could he move?
Of course Januzaj may be looking to improve with each passing week, but a player of his obvious quality won’t want to find himself out of the first-team selection for long. Whether rightly or wrongly the youngster now considers himself a key part of Van Gaal’s plans and if that isn’t reflected in the amount of opportunities he’s given then it could alert European rivals.
Both Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have been loosely named in connection with moves for the winger in the past and, though the thought of United negotiating in any capacity is unlikely at best, they could be convinced to push for a transfer if Januzaj is unhappy.