The rise of Adnan Januzaj has been astonishing, this time last year he was playing his first few games with the first team. He really stood out during Manchester United’s pre-season last year but those who are familiar with United’s reserves knew full well what a talent he was before that.
For the 2012/2013 season Januzaj was handed the number 44 shirt for the first team but never made an appearance. Sir Alex named him on the bench in his final ever game which ended 5-5 against West Brom. Januzaj impressed throughout the season playing for the u21s and the reserves. At the end of the season he won the ‘2013 Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year award’.
Januzaj went on the have a season that he could only have dreamt of. He was given his first competitive senior start in the Community Shield where United defeated Wigan but his first Premier League start was where he would kick start his season and probably his career! His first Premier League appearance was against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford coming on as a second half substitute. David Moyes handed the then 18-year-old his first start against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. The game, like many others that season, wasn’t easy for United. Moyes’ side fell 1-0 down within five minutes but thankfully Januzaj saved United scoring both goals including a simply stunning volley. It was the perfect way to announce himself and since that game he was a regular all season and without doubt one of United’s best players.
United’s wingers had a truly appalling season, Valencia, Young and Nani were dreadful last season. I mean most players did not play to their potential but the wingers along with the midfielders in particular were shocking. Januzaj came in and outplayed all three of them. He didn’t score very many goals, four in the league in total but to put that into perspective Young, Valencia and Nani combined scored four aswell. Those three are vastly experienced and talented players, Nani has even won the Champions League yet an 18-year-old comes up through the reserves outplays, outscores and keeps them out of the team. Is that a testament to Januzaj’s quality or exposing the weakness of the three mentioned? I’m 100% sure it’s a blend of both factors.
Adnan Januzaj was the bright spark in a dark year. I, like many other Manchester United fans, have never experienced such a season. Normally what would be considered a failure is 2nd place yet here we are finishing seventh. Januzaj was one of the few who stood out, who gave fans something that wasn’t gloom and doom. He’s exactly the kind of player that excites fans, he’s energetic and glides past people with easy. He may not the fastest nor the strongest but his ability to beat his man with such ease is tremendous. Nothing seemed to faze him, he had such confidence for such a young player. He wasn’t afraid to whip out all these tricks and flicks or the odd backheel here and there.
To put the phenomenal rise he had into perspective, just over a year ago he was impressing in the first team during pre-season along with a few other youngsters. This time round he wasn’t with United’s pre-season squad because he was on a break after playing in the World Cup. What a fantastic achievement for someone so young. Not only that but he signed a new contract last season which now sees him earn £40,000 per week. Not bad for a season’s work eh?
Januzaj played as a number 10 quite a lot for the reserves and U-21s but with the senior squad he almost always was played as a winger. He was versatile like most wingers and could play either wing. On the left he could get his crosses in from his favoured left foot or on the right he could cut inside and shoot. He did really well on either wing but if Louis van Gaal plans on continuing his 3-5-2 formation where will he fit in? He is in no way suited to play the wing back position, that requires a lot of defensive work as well as attacking which isn’t his strong point. It would seem only that #10 position would suit but we have so many players for that position already. You look at Rooney, Mata, Lingard, Kagawa all players who could play there. It’s very possible LVG might switch up his formation but I’m 100% sure he has a plan, Januzaj is too good to be frozen out of this team.
It’s so exciting to see a player of his age flourish so much. He’s only going to get better each and every season which is something each United fan should be very excited about. He’s already had comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo and been linked to the likes of PSG and Real Madrid. If he continues at this rate who knows what may become of him.