The gloom was well and truly setting in at Manchester United as they emerged for the second half of their match at last-placed Sunderland 1-0 down, but Adnan Januzaj lifted the whole club with his match-winning double, reigniting fan faith that the Old Trafford outfit can land Premier League title odds of 6/1 in the process.
The multi-national midfielder’s remarkable contribution brought more attention to his uncertain future at United, with his contract set to expire in eight months time.
Barcelona are one of the clubs circling overhead and should they firm up their interest in Januzaj, David Moyes could find that the first great positive of his tenure at Old Trafford is to be ripped away from him.
A recent poor record of bringing youngsters through at United
After such a dazzling full debut Januzaj will be expecting to become an instalment in United’s first team this season, but no such guarantees can ever be made at Old Trafford – just ask Wilfried Zaha, who continues to lurk on the bench despite a hefty price-tag.
In the past youngsters have felt the need to move on to realise their potential, with the most obvious recent example being Paul Pogba, who is now ensconced in Juventus’ midfield.
Januzaj has reportedly spoken about felling unappreciated at United in the past after having to wait over two years for his first start and that could make him receptive to a move elsewhere.
Unsettling influences close to Januzaj
Moyes has hinted that Januzaj’s future will be determined by those around him and it is widely reported that his father is the key decision maker.
Januzaj Senior has apparently so far managed to convince his son to reject Belgium’s overtures at both youth and senior international levels as he would prefer him to play for Kossovo should they become recognised by UEFA, giving an idea of his influence.
If he wants to see his son in a Barcelona shirt then there might be little United can do.
United are in decline
Contract talks between United and the player stalled when Sir Alex Ferguson retired, and if Januzaj was waiting to see if the club would cope without the Scot then so far his doubts will be unresolved.
Moyes has made an uncertain start and it is difficult to see United competing with Europe’s elite in the Champions League, as well as the risk they could miss out on the top four in the Premier League.
Barcelona face no such fears and if Januzaj plays the waiting game this season United’s success or indeed lack of it could determine his final decision.