A Manchester United fan once said to me that Adnan Januzaj would be special and was destined for the top. This was after a preseason game against Kitchee, during United’s tour of Asia, back in 2013/14. The youngster managed to get on the scoresheet and put in a performance that will have caught many Red Devils fans’ eyes.
After being promoted to the senior squad at the end of the previous season, by no less than Sir Alex Ferguson himself, many would have expected Januzaj first full year to be a promising one. Proudly sporting the number forty-four jersey, the Belgian made his debut coming on as a substitute against Wigan in the Community Shield match.
Things were going well for Januzaj, and it got even better as he scored his first competitive senior goals, in a stunning display against Sunderland helping his side come from behind to beat the Wearside club 2-1. The world was his oyster and it looked as though it could only get better for the United youngster.
But fast forward almost three years and it’s a very different story. Two unsuccessful loan spells and consistently inconsistent form see the man from Brussels poised to exit the Theatre of Dreams. Real Sociedad tabled a £10 million bid for the 22-year-old, according to the Daily Mail, which the Lancashire giants have reportedly accepted.
The transfer is a long way from what many expected for the winger. As recently as 2014 multiple countries were jostling over the allegiance of Januzaj, eventually culminating in him being selected in Marc Wilmots’ Belgian World Cup squad.
The hype continued. Following David Moyes acrimonious departure in 2014, and Ryan Giggs finally hanging up his boots, Januzaj was rewarded for his potential being handed the number eleven shirt at Old Trafford. Nonetheless, the young Belgian struggled under the pressure of wearing the famous jersey, and found himself in and out of Louis van Gaal’s side.
It was the beginning of a slippery slope for the wide-man, as he failed to score in any competitions for the Red Devils, during the 2014/15 season. Januzaj found himself a fringe player upon the commencing of the 2015/16 season, and despite scoring his first goal for over a year against Aston Villa, he was surprisingly shipped out on loan to Borussia Dortmund.
The United man’s toils continued, making just twelve games for the German club before being recalled to the grey skies of Manchester. Again, the winger found little success with the emergences of Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford and saw his playing opportunities greatly restricted.
The youngster’s career was thrown a lifeline by former boss David Moyes, with his acquisition of the Belgian on a season-long loan at Sunderland. But it was another dismal season for the man who was once nominated for BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year, as the Black Cats were relegated and Januzaj spent much of the season in and out of the side.
And that brings us to the present day, with United’s once most heralded young talent staring a transfer to Real Sociedad right in the face. Manchester United clearly recognise the talent that the Belgian possesses and, according to an earlier report in the Daily Mail, are keen to ensure the insertion of a buy-back clause, should Januzaj depart the club.
Januzaj’s looming departure will no doubt be a disappointingly sad and bitter one for many United fans, especially considering the flashes of brilliance he conjured for their club. But perhaps a fresh start could be exactly what he needs to reignite his stuttering career. But for now, Adnan Januzaj looks likely to suffer a similar fate as that of Federico Macheda and Memphis Depay, both of whom were also at one point tipped for the top.