Manchester United fans have a new hero after 18-year-old winger Adnan Januzaj bagged a quickfire brace against Sunderland on Saturday to ensure victory in his first Premier League start.
Red Devils manager David Moyes has suggested that the teenage sensation is good enough to live up to the hype and could be the next Wayne Rooney in the making. However, the current Premier League champions are walking on a tightrope over Januzaj’s future, as he is out of contract at the end of the season. As such, Januzaj will be free to sign for a new club come January, with a pre-contract agreement with a domestic or European rival a real possibility. If it is not already, one of United’s main priorities must be to tie the prodigious talent down to a new, long-term contract. The likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid are said to be interested in the young Belgian and could land a windfall if they can turn Januzaj’s head.
United have been in a similar position before. Paul Pogba, who made waves in the Manchester club’s famous youth academy, was earmarked as the long-term successor to Paul Scholes. The young French star’s blend of physical and technical abilities, along with his creativity, meant that the Le Harve prodigy looked ideal to replace the outgoing English midfielder.
However, with Pogba in a similar situation to the one that Januzaj finds himself in, the player opted to spurn a new contract from United to move to Juventus at the end of the 2011-12 season.
A year later he is a France international, driving force in the Italian champions’ midfield and a player that United would love to have in their side. The players that the Red Devils looked to sign over the summer had similar abilities to the young star that they let slip through their fingers.
Januzaj is in a better position currently than Pogba was. The Frenchman found first-team opportunities tough to come by, whereas Januzaj now looks set to play a considerable role in Moyes’ plans. With other United wingers struggling for form and fitness, Januzaj can be a key man for the Old Trafford side this season. However, if United do not move quickly to resolve his contract situation he could be playing for one of their rivals this time next term.