When Adnan Januzaj first burst onto the scene in 2013 with a magnificent volley against Sunderland, he was seen as the future of Manchester United.
Three years later, the Belgian is returning to Old Trafford six months early from a loan spell at Borussia Dortmund after failing to impress at the German side. The second half of the season could be a defining period for the youngster.
During the 2013/14 Premier League campaign, Januzaj played an integral role in David Moyes’ United side, making 27 league appearances and starting 15 of those.
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For a then 19-year-old, he showed tremendous talent and appeared to be a man who could prove crucial for the Red Devils over a number of seasons.
This all changed, however, with the sacking of Moyes. Louis van Gaal’s move to Manchester saw Januzaj fall out the first team picture, the Dutchman showing little faith in the winger and rarely playing him.
Such lack of trust continued into this season, with Van Gaal willing to send the youngster out on loan even despite Januzaj scoring a winner against Aston Villa in the opening weeks. This came as a huge shock to many given United's struggle in front of goal.
A move to Germany and Dortmund looked like a great move for the youngster, who would be playing for a side oozing fast, attacking football. This should have been the style of play suited to the young winger.
Yet he barely got a look in. Manager Thomas Tuchel often favoured - unsurprisingly - Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the attacking positions, resulting in a wasted six months for Januzaj.
He now returns to Old Trafford with a point to prove. He clearly wasn’t wanted at Dortmund and judging by the treatment he received from Van Gaal, he isn’t overly welcome in Manchester either.
This could all change, though. With United still struggling for goals, Januzaj may be given an opportunity to show he is good enough to be a top Premier League player and worthy of a starting berth at the Theatre of Dreams.
This is a vital point in the Belgium international's career. If he performs, he could establish himself a regular at United; if he doesn't, an exit and yet another setback might be imminent.
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