Manchester United fans who watched England’s final 2018 World Cup group stage match against Belgium last week could be forgiven for wondering why Adnan Januzaj is no longer plying his trade at Old Trafford.
The 23-year-old left Danny Rose with twisted blood before curling home a fantastic winning goal past Jordan Pickford with his left foot.
It was a moment of magic from a player who looked destined for greatness several years ago. United were convinced they had a future world beater in their ranks and duly handed him Ryan Giggs’ iconic No. 11 shirt at the end of his debut season in the first team.
Very few United players shone during David Moyes’s disastrous 10-month tenure, but Januzaj was one of them.
The winger scored four goals in 35 appearances for the Red Devils and Moyes, who was sacked once it became mathematically impossible for United to qualify for the 2014-15 Champions League, compared the then-teenager to one of the game’s all-time greats.
"Along with Wayne Rooney, Adnan is the best young talent I've worked with as a manager," the Scottish coach, who replaced Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, commented. "He's a wonderful player gifted with great balance and the ability to go past people with ease. When I see his poise on the ball he has characteristics of Johan Cruyff."
However, things quickly went downhill for Januzaj after Moyes was replaced by Louis van Gaal, a coach with a penchant for functional rather than flair players. Following disappointing loan spells with Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland, and with Jose Mourinho clearly not keen, Januzaj permanently left United for Real Sociedad last summer.
New details of why Januzaj failed to make it emerge
However, Andy Mitten - one of the best journalists when it comes to Man Utd - has revealed some fascinating details which go some way to explaining why Januzaj failed to make it at Old Trafford.
It’s been revealed that Januzaj had problems with his own teammates, who were jealous of his meteoric rise to stardom in an otherwise dismal campaign for the club.
“Januzaj's rise caused problems among the other players,” Mitten writes in his latest ESPN column. “They were already reeling under Moyes' tenure and the drop in form. Players didn't like it when a cocksure, cap-wearing kid broke into the first team and started being serenaded in a glorious song by fans desperate to salvage some positive from the car crash of United's 2013-14 season.”
If you can’t remember the song United fans used to sing about Januzaj, watch the following video…
Januzaj's attitude was an issue for his teammates
Mitten goes on to explain that Januzaj’s attitude and closeness with Moyes also alienated him from certain members of the United squad.
“Januzaj behaved like he had won the jackpot, full of himself as you probably need to be to break into United's first team as a teenager,” he adds. “He was also seen as Moyes' man and given that the manager was having struggles with his players as the team fell apart, that wasn't a positive.
"Players -- several of them who should have taken more responsibility as United spun from champions to seventh -- went from winners to losers and having a player taking their spot didn't improve their mood.
“Januzaj became defensive -- if not on the pitch -- and he thought that players were jealous because fans were singing his name and not theirs. It was a rough transition from a reserve player to a first teamer.”
So, there you have it. Januzaj may feel in hindsight that he could have handled things a little different but his teammates at the time clearly didn’t help him.
Things might have been very different had Januzaj broken through in Ferguson’s final season instead.