Manchester United earned their second consecutive 1-0 victory on Friday against a spirited Aston Villa side, courtesy of Adnan Januzaj’s first-half strike. The Belgian, who has fallen out of favour in recent times at Old Trafford, sent a timely reminder to Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal amid speculation of a loan move to Sunderland. Januzaj himself moved to dismiss rumours of a move away from United, claiming that he is happy at Old Trafford but admitted that he does want to play more matches in the future.
Van Gaal praised Januzaj for his performances in pre-season and offered him the opportunity to play in his favoured ‘number 10’ role against Tim Sherwood’s side. Although some would call his decision inspired, many United fans have been calling for the Belgian to play there on a regular basis, particularly after he was deployed in a wider area under David Moyes. Although the youngster was one of United’s best players that season, he couldn’t show his true potential and was often left isolated on the wing.
Januzaj on potential loan deal: "It was only rumours, I want to fight for my place." Read what else he had to say: http://t.co/i2yoLXzfZy
— Man United News (@ManUtdMEN) August 14, 2015
On Friday, Januzaj started his first Premier League match since February – an incredible feat. It is common knowledge that Louis van Gaal has an icy streak but his decision to omit the Belgian from the side last season was a baffling one. Many United fans questioned it at the time but, after finishing fourth and securing Champions League football, supporters were prepared to let his exclusion slide for the benefit of the team. However, Januzaj is the future of Manchester United and the Dutchman must continue to select him in his starting line-up. We take a look at just a few of the key reasons why the youngster deserves to start for the 13-time Premier League champions on a weekly basis.
The Belgian is widely regarded as one of Europe’s top prospects and he will only improve further if he is selected to play regular first-team football. While this in itself isn’t necessarily a reason to throw Januzaj straight into the starting line-up, his talent and potential is. As viewers saw with his goal against Aston Villa, Januzaj’s movement is world class. He has a unique ability to ghost past defenders into the penalty area and is lethal inside the 18-yard box. Meanwhile, his fancy footwork and phenomenal vision enable him to create opportunities while others may have opted to retain possession with a simple pass.
Perhaps his best trait, however, is his confidence. Despite being restricted to a number of cameo roles throughout the back end of last season, Januzaj has continued to believe in his own ability. While he must remain grounded, this is a positive sign for United fans. With Andreas Pereira also coming through the ranks at Old Trafford, they will have two of the best youngster in Europe at the heart of their side in the near future.
Januzaj’s goal ensured that Van Gaal’s side maintained their 100% record after picking up six points from their opening two matches. While there is plenty of football still to be played, the signs are promising at Old Trafford and fans are quietly confident of success this season. Manchester United are good value with bookmakers to lift the Premier League title this season but they mustn’t be ruled out of the cup competitions either. The Dutchman has always enjoyed success in domestic cup tournaments throughout his career and could focus his efforts on those this campaign.
The Belgian remains a pivotal part of Manchester United’s future and Van Gaal would be extremely naive to believe that Januzaj will improve faster at Sunderland than he will at Old Trafford. His performances in pre-season ticked all the right boxes to suggest that he will be a success this campaign but Van Gaal will expect him to continue improving if he is to retain his place in the starting line-up. United supporters will be hoping that the Belgian stays at Old Trafford for the 2015-16 campaign and he could be the deciding factor in United’s hunt for the Premier League title.