If there’s one person who can defuse the growing tensions over the supposed change in Manchester United’s policy of nurturing young talents and opting for home-grown development ahead of mega-money spending, it’s Adnan Januzaj.
The Belgian prodigy is vital to United not only in the sense that he has the potential to become a world-class player very soon, but also due to the fact that he’s a player who has largely been made within the halls of Old Trafford and Carrington.
As a fresh-faced 16-year-old he impressed enough to earn a move from Anderlecht, and last season’s introduction to the first-team was similar to that of Cristiano Ronaldo’s way back in 2003. He was fast, he was direct, he was flashy and above all else he was playing at a level which far exceeded that of a usual individual of his years.
Now firmly registered of the darling boy of the fold Louis van Gaal has inherited, Januzaj’s development could either gift United yet another world-class attacker, or serve up a disappointment comparable to the one sustained by fans when Bebe turned out to be nothing more than an average joe plucked from obscurity to play at a level far exceeding his station. I find myself weighing rather heavily towards the first prediction.
Issues have been presented
Yet for that to be realised, and for Januzaj to continue to flourish, there is a situation which needs to be resolved. To say Van Gaal’s summer spending was top heavy in favour of attack talents is an understatement, and the likes of Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao have given the United manager if anything too many options.
The quick-fix United fans have been craving since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure has been paid for in the £150 million+ that Van Gaal spent during the transfer window, but it might not be good news for emerging talents such as Januzaj. In short the Belgian international is set to struggle for game-time in a side which also includes the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata.
The problems with Januzaj
Though the 19-year-old was given a taste of first-team football during the dire campaign under David Moyes it looks as though he will now be resigned to fighting for minutes like most other players of his age do. Whether or not he’ll accept that though, and in doing so recognise that his time as United’s star attraction has been put on hold for the time being, remains to be seen.
Sure enough there’s already been talk that Januzaj won’t be happy to settle for a place on the bench and, should Van Gaal choose experience over youthful vigour, which many assume he will, will push for an exit. If he were to do so of course it would be tantamount to disaster, with United surrendering the notion that the days where young players can earn their place in the first-team without already having a huge reputation aren’t over.
Potential loan move?
Fresh reports today have highlighted a different route Van Gaal could choose to take, one which entails Januzaj playing for another side on a temporary basis. A loan move to another top European club would allow the prodigal winger to continue to develop at an impressive rate, whilst ensuring that his future remains solely in the palms of United.
Much like Thibaut Courtois's three-year spell at Atletico Madrid, which has culminated in a triumphant return to Chelsea where he’s ousted Petr Cech, all parties could benefit from a Januzaj loan, and the player himself couldn't claim it to be unfair treatment.
The future looks bright for Januzaj and, whilst he remains on the books at Old Trafford, for United too. Van Gaal may be able to spend millions on improving his squad but one need only look back to the fabled Class of 92’ to grasp just how important retaining faith in rising talents can be. Let Januzaj go by all means, but for the sake of the team make sure you can get him back when he begins to realise his true potential.