Januzaj may be influenced by Belgian starlet Bakkali who rejected United move this summer

by Sam Peoples

The Belgian national side is in potentially the strongest shape it has ever been in. As well as the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelelu Lukaku, Axel Witsel and Vincent Kompany, they have a plethora of youngsters coming through including 17-year-old Zakaria Bakkali.

Bakkali, who rejected a move to United this summer in order to play more first team football, was in a very similar situation to Januzaj before he made his debut for Belgium this week. His dual nationality allowed him to play for both Morocco and Belgium but he made the decision to join the Red Devils, the same decision that Januzaj now faces.

And speaking to Het Nieuws Blad about his debut, Bakkali admitted that having his family alongside him was one of the most important things for him, again reminiscent of Januzaj given how close he is to his father.

“Well, it’s just a game like another one, no?,” he said.

“That I played those first minutes for Belgium now or over a couple of months didn’t really matter. But it’s obviously great that I’ve made my national debut aged 17.

“With my family in the crowd. It doesn’t get any better. I knew I was going to get subbed in, the coach told me that. To be honest, it did provide me with some stress, but after 5 mins on the pitch, it was completely gone. It went pretty well. Yes, it was a damper that we conceded the equalizer. But the party won’t be smaller because of it.

“First of all, we should enjoy, because we’re at the World Cup. It’s been a long time. And now, I’ll do everything, truly everything, at PSV to be able to go to Brasil. That is my big dream!”

Bakkali is highly regarded and for Januzaj, he would be direct competition for a place in the side if he was to choose Belgium and that could influence his decision. His father is determined to have guaranteed international football for his son, something Belgium would likely not be able to offer him especially now that Bakkali has been added to the picture.

“There was no pressure from the Moroccan FA. Nor did I ask for any special conditions with Belgium. I played for Belgium at every youth level and the first team is an excellent group. I hope to win and score a lot with Belgium.” Zakaria Bakkali

As well as massive competition for a place in Belgium’s side, there is a potential that Januzaj’s relationship with Belgium has soured before it got started.

Januzaj’s father is furious with Belgium coach Marc Wilmots following his comments about the youngster’s future because Januzaj has been clear that he will not make a decision on his international future until his domestic situation is resolved.

Up until this point, Januzaj has also rejected every opportunity to play for Belgium’s youth sides and last week rejected a call-up to the senior squad.

And who has Januzaj decided to give his first exclusive interview to? Kosovan television where he will answer questions in Albanian and English tomorrow.

There are a lot of reasons why Januzaj should choose to play for Belgium, not least the fact that he could go play in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but it is looking likely that Albania may be his choice in the circumstances.

Image: Twitter/redmancunian

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