Januzaj reaches the last chance sa­loon

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Lon­don

THE Manch­ester United ca­reer of Adnan Januzaj, a for­mer heir ap­par­ent to Ryan Giggs, is now in a last chance sa­loon as José Mour­inho as­sesses whether to re­tain the for­ward.

The is­sue is not a lack tal­ent but the ap­proach of the 21-year-old. His break­through sea­son, when he starred un­der David Moyes in the ill-fated 2013-14 cam­paign, of­fered no hint of the ques­tion­able at­ti­tude that has since stunted his progress.

The view at the club among the coach­ing staff and in the dress­ing room is that Januzaj’s drift to the fringes may end in him wast­ing his chance at Old Traf­ford.

When United an­nounced pro­vi­sional shirt num­bers on Thurs­day there was a sign of how far Januzaj has fallen.

When Giggs re­tired after a supremely suc­cess­ful 23-sea­son ca­reer at United in 2014 his iconic No11 jer­sey was given to Januzaj. At the club it was billed as pass­ing of the ba­ton mo­ment. The han­dover was sup­posed to her­ald Januzaj be­com­ing a first-team fix­ture for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Giggs, who had be­come Louis van Gaal’s No2, gave a spe­cial in­ter­view to the club web­site in which he ex­tolled Januzaj’s virtues. Not any longer. After two sea­sons wear­ing the No11 Januzaj has qui­etly moved to No15, while An­thony Mar­tial, who had to va­cate No9 for the in­com­ing Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic, is to wear Giggs’s for­mer num­ber.

Januzaj broke into the con­scious­ness in Oc­to­ber 2013 when Moyes handed him a first Premier League start at Sun­der­land. United won 2-1 and Januzaj scored both goals.

By the time Moyes’s team trav­elled to Chelsea the fol­low­ing Jan­uary Januzaj was es­tab­lished in the XI and Mour­inho, then in charge at Stam­ford Bridge, was say­ing: “He’s a fan­tas­tic player. He is not 18 – he is 25. He is so ma­ture and com­fort­able. A very good and im­por­tant player.

“I just think he is a very good player with the great con­di­tions to have a great long-term ca­reer. I don’t know the boy in­di­vid­u­ally but it looks like he has the lot.”

That is some praise; the kind Januzaj would wel­come hear­ing again from the man who is now his man­ager. The sense, though, is that he could fade com­pletely from the pic­ture at United.

In Mour­inho’s first game in charge, last Satur­day’s 2-0 vic­tory at Wigan Ath­letic, Januzaj was given the sec­ond half to im­press. He failed to do so dur­ing a run-out in which the man­ager switched him be­tween the right and left flanks.

In Fri­day’s tour opener, a 4-1 de­feat to Borus­sia Dort­mund in Shanghai, Januzaj played only the clos­ing min­utes. There were mo­ments of sparkle as there of­ten are in the cameos Januzaj has be­come used to, but the real test is his at­ti­tude on the train­ing ground.

It is there that Januzaj has dis­ap­pointed with his ap­pli­ca­tion and his team-mates are con­cerned he may not ful­fil his po­ten­tial. Dur­ing the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with Bel­gium it was a sim­i­lar story: those in the camp be­lieved he had more to give. Two years later he was not se­lected for Euro 2016.

Dur­ing Moyes’ ten­ure — last­ing only 34 Premier League matches — Januzaj was a rare shaft of light. His form earned him a five-year deal worth around £60,000 a week in what was viewed as a coup by United.

Now Mour­inho de­cides whether to let him go, ei­ther per­ma­nently or on loan again, fol­low­ing last sea­son’s un­suc­cess­ful tem­po­rary spell at Dort­mund.

That ended pre­ma­turely after Januzaj de­cided he wanted to re­turn to United due to a lack of game-time. One player who kept him out of the Dort­mund side was Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan. Ear­lier this month Mour­inho signed the Ar­me­nia cap­tain from the Ger­man club, in an­other blow to Januzaj’s prospects.

The man­ager is also de­cid­ing whether Bas­tian Schwe­in­steiger should be an­other to head for the exit door. Mour­inho’s pur­suit of Ju­ven­tus’s Paul Pogba — or an­other ma­jor cen­tral mid­fielder — be­fore the win­dow closes is a threat to the Ger­man’s fu­ture. An­other is that Mour­inho has in­formed Marouane Fel­laini that he wants the Bel­gian to stay.

By 1 Septem­ber, when the trans­fer win­dow closes, Januzaj and Schwe­in­steiger could be two of the first ma­jor ca­su­al­ties of the new Mour­inho era. — Guardian

Manch­ester United for­ward adnan Januzaj.

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