Manchester United’s out-of-favour winger Adnan Januzaj will not be allowed to leave Old Trafford on loan this month after being told by manager Louis van Gaal that he must stay and fight for his place in the Red Devils’ first team.
The Belgium international had been open to joining another club on loan until the end of the season after spending most of the campaign so far on the substitutes’ bench. The 19-year-old has played a peripheral role at Old Trafford this season and feels his career could stagnate unless the situation changes.
But the Mirror report that Januzaj has been told he must stay with Manchester United for the second half of the season, despite the fact he has played just 27 minutes of first-team football since early November.
Clubs keen on Januzaj
Several clubs were keen to sign Januzaj on a short-term deal, including Premier League sides Everton and Aston Villa. Former Manchester United manager David Moyes, meanwhile, explored the possibility of bringing the teenager to Real Sociedad.
Januzaj was handed United’s iconic No. 11 shirt, vacated by club legend Ryan Giggs last summer, following a wonderful debut season under Moyes.
Januzaj a victim of Van Gaal's system
But the youngster has become an unfortunate victim of Van Gaal’s 5-3-2 system. Januzaj is not yet capable of playing as a wing-back, as he proved on the opening day of the season against Swansea City, while competition for attacking places is even fiercer this term following the arrival of Angel di Maria, Ander Herrera and Radamel Falcao.
Furthermore, Januzaj has failed to make a telling impact on the rare occasions Van Gaal has selected him this season.
The Belgian disappointed on his first league start under Van Gaal against West Brom in October, struggled to make an impression against Chelsea a week later, and was sacrificed 42 minutes into the Manchester derby on November 2 after Chris Smalling picked up a foolish red card.
Januzaj set to play a bigger role?
A disappointing display against Crystal Palace on November 8 meant Januzaj went on to play just one minute of Premier League football until the 1-1 draw with Stoke City on New Year’s Day.
Van Gaal will be acutely aware that Januzaj needs minutes at this important stage in his career - but this latest move suggests the player may have a more important role to play over the forthcoming months.