Manchester United fans were perplexed with Louis van Gaal’s bizarre decision to allow promising youngster Adnan Januzaj to join German giants Borussia Dortmund on transfer deadline day.
After being used sparingly last year, Januzaj was eager to impress his Dutch manager and took a fitness coach with him on his holiday to Dubai with Luke Shaw in a bid to improve fitness levels.
The talented Belgian’s hard work seemed to pay off, he had been a regular starter in Van Gaal’s side in the opening weeks of the new campaign and had scored a crucial goal in the Red Devils’ 1-0 win away to Aston Villa.
But the former Netherlands manager couldn’t promise him a starting berth throughout the season as Van Gaal felt that Januzaj’s development would be aided with regular playing time at Dortmund, and that he would return to Old Trafford after a season long loan a more experienced player.
However, the former Anderlecht man’s time in Germany has not proved to be a hit thus far, and, restricted to cameo substitute appearances, Januzaj is yet to start a Bundesliga game and his two starts have come in the Europa League.
After a stuttering start to life under Thomas Tuchel, Van Gaal could be prepared to recall the mercurial Belgian if he feels his development is being hindered. Furthermore the 20-time champions’ attacking prowess continues to be heavily scrutinised and the return of Januzaj would bolster United’s creative options.
On the other hand it was Januzaj’s risk taking in possession which irked his Dutch manager, the Belgian prodigy careless with the ball which often frustrated Van Gaal.
Yet it’s Januzaj’s risk-taking nature which the current United outfit lacks in abundance.
Jesse Lingard is the latest academy graduate to be given the opportunity to flourish under Van Gaal and the Warrington born winger has made a similar start to life at the Theatre of Dreams as Januzaj did under David Moyes.
Januzaj’s rise to prominence at United was arguably the only shining light during Moyes’ short, turbulent reign in charge. Januzaj burst on the scene and seemed to relish the big stage: he was young and raw but did not seem fazed by representing one of the biggest teams in world football.
Such was the hype around Januzaj’s impressive start he was given the opportunity/burden of yielding the legendary Ryan Giggs number 11 shirt.
With the European 2016 Championship on the horizon, Januzaj is keen to impress Marc Wilmots but after been subjected to the role of onlooker from the Dortmund bench, Januzaj has been dropped from the national team.
After recently opting to stay at Dortmund and work on his game instead of representing Belgium at the under-21 level, Januzaj’s attitude and motivation has been questioned by the Belgium under-21s coach, Enzo Scifo.
“A 20-year-old player who gives this impression of non-motivation, it reflects a poor state of mind,” Scifo told La Dernière Heure in Belgium.
“I would normally speak to him, but I don’t have a good feeling about this. I’m not condemning him because he is young. He might react in six months, a year or two. I hope it won’t be too late for him.”
Januzaj’s actions were defended by his agent Dirk De Vriese, who said: “There is no question of a bad state of mind.
“This decision is part of the project, Adnan focuses on his work and we plan the rest. Do not point the finger.”
The signings of Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay have injected a more youthful approach to the new look United forward line and with the club still nurturing the likes of James Wilson, Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira, Januzaj will be eager to spearhead the new exciting generation coming through the Old Trafford ranks.
With Januzaj’s desperation to land a spot in Belgium’s Euro 2016 squad coinciding with United’s lacklustre attacking displays, a return to Old Trafford in January cannot be ruled out.
Image courtesy of BT Sport via YouTube, with thanks.