Manchester United and Belgium winger is often touted as a massive talent: he was an outstanding performer last season, and many tip him to become a great player. But, is he really worth the hype?
Let's just emphasise exactly how large this hype is: David Moyes has hailed him as "one of the best young talents in Europe" and stated last season "he's going to be a great player." Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho stated "He is fantastic. A very good and very important player." Harry Redknapp said that "he could become another one of the truly great Manchester United players."
He stood out last year
Indeed Manchester United made perhaps their worst move of the summer when they rejected a £40m bid from Paris Saint-Germain. This seems ridiculous: for a team with such an array of attacking talent, a bid of that enormous magnitude is surely worth accepting.
Few can deny that in Januzaj's first professional season he stood out. But, was that really a great achievement? David Moyes' Manchester United side were weak to say the least. They dropped from first to second, and distinctly lacked quality. They dropped points frequently against weak teams. Remember that Januzaj only played on average for 61 minutes throughout his 27 league appearances, only scoring four and assisting four.
Poor start to the season
Now, with players like Angel Di María and Radamel Falcao in the United side, Januzaj has disappointed to say the very least. According to WhoScored.com, football statistics Bible, he has been United's third worst player so far. Given that the worst is Tom Thorpe, a defender who has only played for one minute so far, and James Wilson, who came on as a substitute for 18 minutes, it seems fair to say that Januzaj has been United's worst performer so far this season, excluding those who've only played for a very small amount of time.
Using Squawka statistics, we can see exactly how he has performed. In five appearances he has averaged just 10 passes per game: a disappointing statistic for a winger. He has gone for goal eight times in these five matches, but with an awful shooting accuracy of only 17%. Only 56% of his attempted dribbles have actually come off, with the remaining 44% resulting in him being tackled. Finally, in five games he has created just one chance.
Some might put this poor form as temporary; that he'll soon be back to his normal ways. Well, was he even much better last campaign? Not really: his dribbling percentage was even lower at 53%, his pass completion was also 4% lower. His shot accuracy was still disappointing at 43%.
Januzaj could be excellent
So, it seems fair to say that last season, Januzaj stood out simply because of the lack of quality around him. Now that United have returned to their winning ways, Januzaj has been outclassed by his team mates.
I'm not saying that Januzaj won't become a great player: that's entirely possible. Look at Seamus Coleman: he only became a regular starter at 26. Antonio Di Natale only became a world class striker aged 28. Meanwhile, Nicklas Bendtner and Alexandre Pato were both tipped to be the best strikers in the world when they were young. Their careers never worked out.
So all I'm saying is that Januzaj has not been as excellent in his youth as some people make out, and that we are currently seeing the evidence of that.
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