When Adnan Januzaj broke on to the Old Trafford scene in 2013, he was one of the few shining lights in a period of deep despair during the disastrous David Moyes reign in the Old Trafford dugout. Three years on, Januzaj has been all but abandoned by United. Frozen out, loaned out, and now told he’s not wanted by Jose Mourinho, an exit is on the cards, but speculation suggests that the player is demanding a permanent exit, a wish that the club is reluctant to fulfill.
Originally, bosses had hoped that Januzaj would head out on loan, to give him one last chance to impress and savour his United career, but following a meeting with Mourinho, he has demanded a permanent exit. With the likes of Everton, PSG and Ajax monitoring the situation, he is far from short of suitors, whilst the current favourite to secure his signature is old boss Moyes, now at Sunderland.
Where did it all go wrong for the 21-year-old? Once nominated for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year after just 10 appearances, Januzaj’s career has derailed since Moyes’ sacking. Louis Van Gaal was unconvinced by the Kosovo-born winger, seeing his appearance count go from 35 under Moyes in his breakthrough season to just 21 under Van Gaal in 2014/15, and then being shipped out on loan to Borussia Dortmund in 2015/16.
In Germany, he failed to impress to the extent that he was sent back early having played in just 12 games with major concerns over his attitude.
Those attitude problems persist, and Mourinho; far from the most patient of coaches, does not have the space in his expensively assembled squad for a youngster who will not give his all for the cause.
Whilst some coaches are still hoping that he can reach his full potential at Old Trafford, which is why a loan was favoured, Mourinho and others doubt that and feel that a loan would not provide the motivation required to ensure that the player corrects his attitude. Without that, he will never reach his undoubted potential.
That is why a move to Sunderland may be the best thing for him. Whilst not as glamorous as the likes of Paris or Amsterdam, and there is no offer of Champions League football, he would most likely walk straight into the first team. Working under a coach who knows and believes in him could well be the spark to make him kick on and reach the next level in his career.
With increased exposure to first-team football, he can return to the star status that he enjoyed under Moyes in Manchester, under which he excelled and shone more than at any other point in his career.
However, the fact that there would be no fall back in the form of a loan move, and that the switch would be permanent, may well put the Black Cats off. Financial power is not something that Sunderland have in comparison to many of the other clubs monitoring his situation, and whether they would be able to meet United’s demands would be challenging enough, let alone Januzaj’s wage demands.
Signed from Anderlecht in 2011 for just short of £300,000, it’s expected that a bid of around £15 million may be required to secure his signature, representing half of what Sunderland spent in January as they tried to salvage their Premier League status.
As such, a move may become reliant upon how high a priority Januzaj is for Moyes, who had reportedly been keen to bring him in on loan. With Marouane Fellaini also a target, if the Mirror is correct, then it is hard to imagine that the club will be able to afford to sign both players. For Januzaj though, a move to the Stadium of Light could be what is needed to save his career, and it would certainly be worth forcing through the move to make it happen.
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