Former Liverpool defender Phil Thompson has ruled out the possibility of Adnan Januzaj enjoying a successful career at Manchester United, pointing towards the youngster’s lack of consistency.
The Belgian announced himself to the watching world with a sensational brace during Man United’s 2-1 win over Sunderland back in October 2013 and went on to dazzle supporters with a series of promising performances in an otherwise languid campaign under David Moyes.
He then endured two difficult years under Louis van Gaal, managing just one goal, before moving to Sunderland on loan back in August 2016 after failing to break into the first team under Jose Mourinho.
And Thompson, speaking on Sky Sports, believes that Januzaj will never manage to rediscover the zeal that initially propelled him to stardom during the early stages of his United career.
“I don’t think he’s ever going to get back to those heights,” he said. “He fleets in and out of games and I think that’s why he starts.”
“They’re hoping to get one or two moments of magic where he can create something or score a goal. He does produce it but he doesn’t do it often enough.
“For a team like Sunderland, trying to get out of the relegation zone, I think that’s where he lies. Even if he moves on I don’t think he’s ever going to produce what he did at Manchester United.”
It feels like this summer could be a watershed period when it comes to determining the fate of Januzaj’s career.
His time at Sunderland has been hallmarked by the occasional moment of brilliance intersecting an underlying pattern of frustrating performances, and one finds it hard to imagine the 22-year-old – whilst undoubtedly talented – mounting a challenge to the likes of Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard for a place in the starting XI. Andreas Pereira, currently on loan at Grenada, stands a better chance of creeping into the first team in light of a promising few months in Spain.
Januzaj will know, therefore, that pre-season serves as his only real chance to prove his worth to Mourinho ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.