Adnan Januzaj has already made his Premier League and Capital One Cup debut but is yet to make a Champions League appearance for Manchester United this season.
He was not part of the first few match day squads because David Moyes wanted to wait until he was eligible to go on the A-list as a home-grown player and he was an unused substitute against Real Sociedad at Old Trafford, but he could make his eagerly anticipated European debut today.
The 18-year-old has been one of the most exciting aspects of this season so far for United fans. There are few things as gripping as watching the rise of a potential superstar from the ground up, especially for those who had watched him excel with the Under-21s last year.
Up until Cardiff this weekend, every single performance was outstanding. Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Stoke, Liverpool and Norwich. All of them impressive. However, he had his first dip against Cardiff as a consequence of trying too hard to make something happen.
When a player is on the fringe and has limited opportunities to impress, they feel pressured to do something special at every available opportunity and Januzaj fell foul to that mindset in Wales, but doesn’t need to think like that any more. He has established himself as a first team player now.
Tomorrow is a big match and there is a real pressure for United to win but Moyes has thrown him into pressured situations before where Januzaj has excelled. If he can make his Champions League debut, it would be another hurdle jumped for the 18-year-old and there is no doubt he is itching to play in Europe’s elite competition.
Sir Matt Busby always said that if a player was good enough, he was old enough. That philosophy resonates with Januzaj. He would become one of the youngest ever United players to play in the Champions League (Gerard Pique was 17 when he played against Fenerbahce in 2004) but players of his ilk are rare and deserve a platform from a young age. i
To go from Under-18s football to a Champions League debut all within 18 months would be something special but when it comes to Januzaj, special is something we have already become accustomed to seeing.
Do you think Adnan Januzaj will feature against Bayer Leverkusen today?