Vive la Revolution: Adnan Januzaj ignores England and pledges allegiance to Belgium
Manchester United’s creative midfielder Adnan Januzaj has recently pledged his international future to Belgium, having started to give the impression a few weeks ago that he may well eventually want to play for England. He is a precocious talent; of that there is no doubt, but how much of a blow to England’s international future is his decision?
Januzaj had several other options open to him until he plumped for Belgium. These were his native Kosovo; who have only recently been recognised as a nation by FIFA, England; once he fulfilled the qualification process by playing on these shores for 5 years, Turkey, Serbia, and Albania; his father’s home country.
The first point to consider is that the Belgian would not be immediately available for use by England due to residency rules. Therefore, we would need to wait for 4 more years anyway to see him perform for The Three Lions. By this point in the future, no matter how unlikely it may currently seem, we cannot know what brilliant young player may have just burst onto the scene. Who can know what the potential line-up and formation could be, and where the national team could really use the talents he seems to possess.
We should not forget the sudden nature in which players such as Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere appeared in the limelight. Over a decade ago now, the public went from being completely unaware of the 17 year-old Liverpudlian to him being the next great thing. There is always another potential great on the horizon that just needs the right coaching to hone his skills. That player in this generation may be someone such as Raheem Sterling or James Ward-Prowse, or he may well be yet to make his mark at all.
While there is no doubt at all that he possesses the talent to be special, we are still unsure about his longevity at the highest level. Having observed several dazzling displays for the Red Devils in the early part of the season that brought him sharply into focus, we have barely seen him since. Under David Moyes’ stewardship, it was claimed that he was becoming drained and tired. Man Utd staff had noticed this in training and, so as not to risk a development-stunting injury or the frequently mentioned ‘burn-out’, the decision was made to use him sparingly in the latter section of the campaign. As such, we cannot yet be sure of his ability to perform for an entire season or longer, so a decision on his eventual value to a team should be delayed until more concrete evidence is available.
Finally, there is a common misconception that there are no promising young English players coming through the ranks. I do not believe that this is the case at all. At Southampton alone, we have seen 5 or 6 really come to the fore this season. Liverpool’s youth system too is churning out talent and this is still discounting the classic academies of Manchester United and Chelsea. Rather than the attacking midfield role that Januzaj slots into, it is in fact at centre half that I believe the concern should be.
To conclude then, I believe that Adnan Januzaj is not worth giving up the principles and standards that a true national team should hold dear. We should have faith in the legitimate Englishmen working their way through the youth system and should not be too concerned about a talented Belgian who has yet to fully prove himself, and could only be put to use in 4 years time. In what would open up another entire debate however, should the equivalent of Lionel Messi come along in a few years and want to play for England, then a serious debate should be had.
For now though, let us know if you would have liked to see Adnan Januzaj play for England one day, and who are the youngsters coming through the ranks at your club that the rest of us are currently unaware of.
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