The Curious Case of Adnan Januzaj

Adnan Januzaj is a clear case of too much too soon. For a player considered to be heir to Ryan Giggs, it is fair to say that he peaked too soon. Very soon.

On-loan at Sunderland, he has failed to make a mark there and looks set to go down with the club at the end of the season. When asked about the Belgian, Mourinho revealed that he has made a decision regarding his future and it is easy to guess what it will be.

For a player who was easily at his best in the 2013-14 disaster, it is fair to say that he is a pale shadow of his former self. That season he was the player who excited fans and brought them to their feet. He had a natural ability on the ball and could unlock defenses at will. For a player who was hailed as the New Cruyff by David Moyes, the protégé’s career has followed the same path as his mentor. After his impressive debut season, he was given the famed No. 11 jersey worn by Giggs and expectations were high. But, he failed to impress incoming manager Louis van Gaal and was a bit-part player throughout the year. The high point of his season has to be his duel with Andreas Pereira as to who would score first directly from a corner in a reserves match. No one won!

In his third full season with United, he started the first four of the first five games and even scored the winner against Aston Villa but, was still shipped out on deadline day to Borussia Dortmund. He made the starting lineup a handful of times and was at best an unused substitute. This was a big come down for a lad expected to be a star at Old Trafford. Upon arrival Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel said,

“He’s an exciting, creative player but it will take time to for him to get used to us, to the defensive work and the training intensity too.”

It seems he never got used to Dortmund’s and Januzaj returned prematurely to Manchester. The Dortmund move was a spectacular backfire. His season long loan was cut short after the Belgian reportedly failed to embrace life in Germany and due to the plethora of injuries at United. It was widely believed that Tuchel thought Januzaj was too slow to move the ball. This criticism has also been aimed at him by former United boss Louis van Gaal.

Januzaj returned to Old Trafford and barely played a game as United finished 5th and missed out on Champions League football. Upon returning, he found a team that could not afford to drop Anthony Martial or Wayne Rooney. Jesse Lingard had a brilliant breakthrough campaign and would not be dropped due to his amazing form. Then in the Midtjylland game at Old Trafford, Martial pulled up in the warm-up and could not play in the match. Januzaj was expected to slot into the lineup but, instead, it was a debut for a little know youngster by the name of Marcus Rashford, and the rest is history.

It was probably this, that made Januzaj realized he did not have a future at Old Trafford, at least in the current regime. Even Giggs, the man whose jersey he inherited, seemed to have lost hope in the boy. Even after the arrival of Jose Mourinho, his career at Old Trafford is thought to be over. He was sent out on loan to Sunderland where he linked up with David Moyes. Despite this, he has not hit the wondrous standard he set for himself and seems destined to make a quiet exit through the Old Trafford back door in the summer.