New Balance ambassador Adnan Januzaj enjoyed a superb breakthrough season at Manchester United under David Moyes and was one of the shining lights in a campaign where fans had very little to cheer about.
However, the 20-year-old didn’t continue to progress in the same vein last year in what was Louis van Gaal‘s first year in charge.
Chances were limited and although there were some good performances, on the whole he would have wanted to have played a more influential role in helping United secure a Champions League qualification spot.
Somewhat predictably, Januzaj was then linked with a move away from United this summer but his agent has moved to completely quash all of those reports and insisted he would be a United player next year.
Is it the right decision for Januzaj to stay at United or would a loan move be better for him? It all depends on what you see as what is important for Januzaj.
Last year, it was an exciting season for Man United and although Januzaj didn’t play a central role, he was part of the journey under Van Gaal.
As the likes of Nick Powell and Angelo Henriquez can attest to, sending players out on loan does not guarantee them regular first-team football. Sometimes, staying at the club and being involved in the day-to-day training can be more beneficial.
So, while Januzaj didn’t benefit from as much first-team football as he’d have wanted, being involved in first-team training all year and winning the U21s Premier League title did help him improve.
We were big advocates of Januzaj moving to PSV as part of a deal which brought Memphis Depay to United because it was a club where the young Belgian would have played a central role in immediately replacing Depay.
It would have been the right sort of pressure on his shoulders, the sort which would help him develop.
However, it doesn’t look like Januzaj will be joining the Eredivisie champions and even considering a loan move to Paris St Germain would be futile as he’d be stuck on the bench there all season.
So, all things considered, the best place for Januzaj next season is at United.
Van Gaal has a long history of nurturing some of the world’s most talented youngsters – Thomas Muller, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, to name a few – and he’ll be hoping to do the same with Januzaj.
The likes of Depay and Ashley Young will be competing against Januzaj for a place in the team but that should help him strive to improve.
Van Gaal showed last year that he isn’t afraid to play a younger player if they show they deserve it, so it will now be up to Januzaj to prove to United’s boss that he simply has to start on a regular basis.
At this point last season, lots of United fans were desperate for him to be sold after a disappointing debut campaign following a £27.5m move from Everton, but Fellaini kept working hard and earned his rewards.
His first goal for the club came away to West Bromwich Albion in October and he used that as a catalyst for what was a strong season from then on in.
Fellaini transformed himself from a player who fans saw as a handicap to somebody who became central to United’s push for a Champions League qualification spot.
While Januzaj hasn’t faced anywhere near the same levels of criticism as Fellaini, it’s a great example for the 20-year-old to use because he overcame adversity and proved his work simply through performances on the pitch.
Next season, Januzaj will want to do exactly the same and he’ll be keen to start with a strong pre-season tour in USA. If he can excel over in America, he has the opportunity to force his way into Van Gaal’s plans right from the start.
It’s going to be an interesting season next year for Januzaj but if he can knuckle down and work hard, he’ll be given his chances.
Adnan Januzaj is an ambassador for New Balance and features as part of a promotional campaign around their new boot launch.