Adnan Januzaj and Wilfried Zaha had similar pre-season tours in many respects. It was their first tour with the senior side and both players stood head and shoulders above the rest of the squad.
Their youthful exuberance and natural ability made them shine out in Asia. Alongside Jesse Lingard, they were United’s star performers on a physically tough tour given the conditions.
Yet, since the start of the Premier League their seasons have gone in the opposite direction. Januzaj has made both his Premier League and Capital One Cup debut while Zaha has yet to make his senior competitive Manchester United debut.
This has led to a lot of United fans to ponder why Zaha hasn’t featured given how prominent he was in pre-season but there is a logical reason why Januzaj should be picked ahead of Zaha.
United have already tied Zaha down to a five year contract and although he will want to feature as much as possible, he knows that the first year of any youngster in United’s first team is merely about planting their roots and settling in the team.
On the contrary, Januzaj’s future at Old Trafford is far from secure. Negotiations over a new long term deal have been ongoing since August 2013 but no conclusion has been reached, leading to beliefs that he could be the latest in a line of talented youngsters to leave Old Trafford and that is why Januzaj is progressing faster than Zaha right now.
Januzaj needs to know he is wanted. Pogba and Daehli left because of a lack of first team opportunities and Moyes knows that he cannot make that mistake with Januzaj. He is something else. He is a special player. United have shown that they know that by giving him his debut in the league and cup.
There are perfectly founded frustrations at Moyes’ decision to not play Zaha but in the grand scheme of things, it could serve United very well. Januzaj has to know that he is included in Moyes’ first team plans in the immediate future or he will move elsewhere for first team football.
Zaha will get his opportunities as the season wears but as much as we all want to see how well he can do in the Premier League, it is more important to play Januzaj in order to secure his long term future than to give Zaha his debut right now.
Circumstances always dictate what happens in football and while Zaha is undoubtedly frustrated, he has to be ready for when his opportunity comes, but United’s prerogative is securing the future of Januzaj right now.