Ah, Adnan. The poster boy for the modern day Manchester United academy until Marcus Rashford turned up at the same time as Adnan became, well, rubbish. Actually, scrap that opening gambit. Adnan Januzaj, the poster boy for the David Moyes era. Actually, Adnan Januzaj – the poster boy for David Moyes post-Everton is probably closer.
Sure, it was Sir Alex that called Adnan into the first team squad for the first time at United, giving him the number 44 shirt and leaving him on the bench in his final game against West Bromwich Albion. But it was the genius of Moyes that saw the potential in the young Belgian, or as some of the media wanted him to become the young English hope. Funnily enough, that clamour has died down a bit.
But it did start well for Januzaj, scoring twice on his first United start as the team came from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1. The next Ryan Giggs? The next Beckham? The next Duncan Edwards? Sadly, he turned out to be the next Federico Macheda.
After Moyes left, it was clear that Louis van Gaal wasn’t keen on the cut of the young winger-cum-10’s jib. He was sent out on loan to Borussia Dortmund, in the hope it would give him a kick start. Yeah, that didn’t happen.
David Moyes still believed in him though, he felt Januzaj was going to be the man that kept Sunderland well away from relegation danger and at the start of the 2016/17 season a loan move to the Stadium of Light was agreed as part of a midnight raid of United’s reserve team before Moyes decided it would also be fun to try and recreate the Everton class of 2008 on Wearside.
Januzaj played 25 times for Sunderland, managing no goals and almost as many assists. As we know, Sunderland crashed and burned as it turned out that an Everton side that was good eight years ago, plus some United cast-offs mixed in with some of the rubbish already at Sunderland wasn’t good enough to stay in the Premier League. Who’d have thought it? And, as a result, Januzaj fully earns his place alongside the likes of Joleon Lescott, Vincent Janssen et al on the list of the Greatest Premier League Transfers of the season.
Now, you might think that being touted to all the academy players at Carrington as “don’t end up like Adnan” would suggest that Januzaj’s career could be on the slide. I guess that all depends on how you grade “slide”. Real Sociedad are believed to have agreed a £10m fee of Adnan and are prepared to chuck about €80k in his direction a week, on the agreement he tries a little bit harder than has been doing recently.
There is no doubting that Adnan Januzaj had a bit of talent. There is no doubting David Moyes’ logic for taking him to Sunderland. But, when all this is over, they will both look back and wonder where it all went wrong.