Adnan Januzaj has hinted towards a potential positional change at Manchester United after producing a series of promising performances at No.10 whilst on loan at Sunderland.
The Belgian joined the Black Cats on a season-long loan over the summer after failing to enmesh himself in first team upon Jose Mourinho‘s arrival.
And Januzaj, five months into his spell under David Moyes, has attracted more blame than praise, but his recent performance at No.10 during Sunderland’s 4-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend – hallmarked by two smart assists – reminded the watching world of his unquestionable talent.
The youngster, speaking after the game, was quick express his enthusiasm for his new role behind Jermain Defoe.
“I really like playing with him [Defoe] even though he always asks for the ball,” he said. “He’s an unbelievable striker and you can see that with his goals because they weren’t easy chances.
“He’s someone I can learn a lot from. In the last few games we’ve linked really well and I think we have a good relationship with each other. We’re enjoying playing together and hopefully he can score many more goals.
“Like I said before, it’s much easier for me and JD when the team are playing with confidence.”
Januzaj’s placement at No.10 is not a brand new phenomenon. The Belgian was actually placed in that role by Louis van Gaal during wins over Aston Villa (a game in which he scored) and Club Bruges, before deciding – for some reason – to loan him out to Borussia Dortmund.
This may have escaped your memory, and I can understand why: the 21-year-old was an anonymous figure behind Wayne Rooney for those 180 minutes, displaying little in the form of strength, spatial awareness or verve going forward.
Against Palace, however, he was an effervescent figure, buoyantly charging around the pitch as Sam Allardyce’s men wilted in dramatic fashion. Harder challenges lie around the corner, but this was a step in the right direction for Januzaj.