After bursting on the Premier League scene last season, Adnan Januzaj has found himself on the outside looking in to Manchester United’s starting eleven. In recent weeks, the 19-year-old Belgium international has been selected in Louis van Gaal’s 18-man matchday squad but has failed to crack United’s starting eleven since October 26 and has only made four starts in 20 league matches.
Januzaj has completed a full ninety minutes only twice this season and has accumulated a total of just 435 minutes during the first half of the Premier League campaign. Those numbers are a far cry from the 2013-14 season when the teenager made 35 appearances in all competitions for United – starting 19 times under then-manager David Moyes.
The influx of players to Old Trafford this summer, as well as numerous formation changes and the redefining of player’s roles under Louis van Gaal, have taken a toll on Januzaj’s first-team playing time.
This season, the Belgian has shown flashes of the speed, creativity and maturity that thrust him into the European spotlight last year. But the player still struggles with the physical nature of the league and has not adjusted to the defensive responsibilities expected of him by Van Gaal.
Numerous reports have stated that former United boss David Moyes would like to take the 19-year-old on-loan at Real Sociedad for the remainder of the season. But Van Gaal has previously insisted that the teenager will not be leaving Old Trafford during the January window.
While there are benefits to competing against United’s array of attacking talent day-after-day in training, there is no questioning the advantages provided by actual matches.
Despite the club’s staggering injury total, the young Belgian has still found it hard to get into games. Januzaj needs first-team experience against European competition if he is to develop into the player he is expected to become by most football experts.
That’s why Louis van Gaal should allow the player to go out on loan in January.
If Moyes and Real Sociedad are truly an option for the teenager, United need to let Januzaj leave in January in order to test his skills against Europe’s elite and develop his match fitness/rhythm.
The former United manager would be an ideal teacher for the young starlet. Despite his failings last season at Old Trafford, Moyes has shown an ability to develop young talent and provide the necessary instruction to further their careers – Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley being perhaps the biggest names that come to mind.
Moyes is also recognized for his defensive mind. He will undoubtedly remind Januzaj of his responsibilities on that end of the pitch and hold the teenager accountable when he fails to track back or execute the team’s game plan in defense.
La Liga would also provide Januzaj with a greater challenge than sitting on the United bench during match days.
With games still left against Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla; the Belgian has an opportunity to line up against teams who are competing – or will be competing – in Europe in the coming years.
If there is genuine interest from the Spanish club and an agreement can be reached between the two sides, United should allow Januzaj to ply his trade in Spain for the remainder of the season.
Last season, the club signed the forward through June 2019 and increased his wages to £30,000-per-week. United shouldn’t allow their investment to grow stale riding the bench behind Van Gaal’s first choice players.
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