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Can Adnan Januzaj re-capture his form under David Moyes at Sunderland?

The career of promising youngster Adnan Januzaj has taken somewhat of a nose-dive in the last two seasons. Given his chance at Manchester United by David Moyes, the now 21-year old was highly-rated back in 2013/14 and was awarded for his exploits with a five-year contract at Old Trafford which would run until 2018.

Since then, the Belgian has failed to live up to the hype and nail down a regular first-team spot, and for thr first half of the 2015/16 campaign he found himself shipped out on loan to Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund. Cashing in on the youngster’s lack of regular action, his former manager David Moyes, having taken up the reins at Sunderland, has swooped for Januzaj and secured him on a season long loan from Mourinho’s Manchester United.

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Moyes had already raised United for fellow youngsters Paddy McNair and David Love, and now looks to add a different dimension to his attack in order to ease the heavy reliance on last season’s leading marksman at the Stadium of Light, Jermain Defoe.

However, Moyes acknowledged at his press-conference ahead of Sunderland’s opening trip to Manchester City that he has to get Januzaj playing “back at the level he played at two years ago”, but can the youngster truly re-capture the spark he showed then to kickstart his career?

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Moyes clearly believes that the youngster can do so having shown faith by signing him, and even Mourinho has insisted that Januzaj still has a future of Old Trafford and that the club do eventually “want him back”, even if this season he may find first-team opportunites difficult to come by in the wake of Mourinho’s influx of exciting new recruits, and of course the problem of dislodging the previously established talents of Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial.

“He fits my plans and that’s why he is on loan, and on loan at a Premier League club”, Mourinho said of the player via Sky Sports News.

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“We care about him and we think he is a talented player. But to be in a squad with Memphis, Martial Mkhitaryan, Young, Mata would not mean many matches. So we cannot be selfish and must think about the players; in this case Adnan. We see him every week in this country, we can compare performances”.

“He is now in the right place with a manager that likes him a lot. We want it to go well because we want him back”.

One thing that his spell on Wearside will provide is the platform to perform that comes with regular first-team football. Sceptics will argue that he didn’t cut the mustard at Borussia Dortmund but even there he found himself frozen out of the first-team and occupying a peripheral role. In order for the youngster to realise his potential, he must rack up minutes of first-team football in order to perform, and an environment like Sunderland, which doesn’t come with such sky-high expectations or anywhere near as much pressure as featuring for a bigger name club, will help the youngster concentrate on his football.

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Moyes certainly will give him his chance, having done so at Old Trafford, and it is the stability of having a coach behind him who believes in his ability and will give him the minutes to improve on the pitch that will help the youngster rediscover his spark.

There is a risk however. Despite Mourinho’s want of the player, there evidently needs to be some improvement because Adnan Januzaj at present is far from the finished article, otherwise he would be pushing for a place in the Manchester United first-team. Moyes himself knows that it is down to the player to make the most of his opportunity rather than simply place blame in the hands of his former coaches over his lack of game-time and concede to flopping at yet another club.

Speaking of the player, Moyes told the Guardian“I’ve said to Adnan, you need to stop blaming everyone else for what’s gone wrong I’ve told him to look at himself and realise that it’s down to him to change it; it can’t always be the manager’s fault or the coach’s fault that he hasn’t progressed.”

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It is the desire of Januzaj therefore that ultimately will determine whether he can truly push on and develop into a top player. He is two-footed, and has all the talent to beat a man, score and create goals, but he has shown his raw talent in fits and starts, and now he must discover an aspect of consistency in his game. Having not featured a great deal for the past two years, he is back under the watchful eye of a manager in Moyes who will present him with a springboard, but the Belgian has to make the leap of faith and show his ability. Then and only then can he expect to flourish.

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