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Where Are They Now? Saidy Janko – Manchester United’s apparent heir at right-back

The name Saidy Janko is one which will be fondly remembered at Manchester United, a player once considered to be the heir of Antonio Valencia in the right-back role. Despite the player having bags of potential and ability, at United he just did not make it. I thought he had a great chance to become the right-back for years to come after his rise to fame from the U18’s to the reserves after signing from FC Zürich on deadline day in the summer of 2013.

Janko played 27 matches in his debut season (2013/14) at the club, playing in the U18’s, U19’s and the U21’s, scoring once and assisting a further five goals. Despite being a right-back, he spent his time playing for the U21’s in a right-wing role, which is where his only goal that season came from and four of his five assists. The following season, Janko played his football for the U21’s making 14 appearances and assisting five goals. He also played in the first team on one occasion, making if 15 appearances for United that season. That fateful 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the League Cup.

During his debut season at United, Janko was named the 2014 Denzil Haroun Reserves Player of the Year, as voted for by the supporters of the club, after emerging as a key figure in Warren Joyce’s U21 side. He was nominated alongside both Reece James and Charni Ekangamene. After receiving the award from Class of 92 graduate Nicky Butt, Janko said:

“I’m very proud. I didn’t expect something like this. I’ve settled in pretty well because Manchester United is like a family, so I made friends really quickly. Warren Joyce had confidence in me and gave me a chance to prove myself.”

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The player was loaned out to Bolton Wanderers on deadline day in the winter transfer window, playing the rest of his season in the Championship. It was a strange transfer as Bolton’s Andy Kellett went the other way, playing for United’s reserves. Janko played ten times for Bolton, scoring from 25-yards and assisting on his debut, a 3-1 victory over Fulham. It was thought he would return to United in the summer and put himself in contention for the first team but it was not meant to be for the Swiss youth international.

On the 1st July 2015, Janko signed for Celtic on a four-year contract, which was a blow but United manager Louis van Gaal had signed Matteo Darmian as the clubs new right-back and with other players in the squad deemed much better, he would not have been a shoe-in for a more advanced role. Janko made 13 appearances for Celtic in his debut season at Celtic Park, failing to score a single goal. We were starting to see signs as to why he did not make it at United, not that it is a bad thing.

During his second season in Scotland, Janko made seven appearances for Celtic before being loaned to Barnsley for the remainder of the season where he made ten appearances, scoring one goal in a 4-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers a fortnight after being loaned out but did not star for the side again. Janko returned to Celtic at the end of the season where he was sold to French side Saint-Etienne, again signing a four-year contract.

This season, Janko has made 19 appearances in Ligue 1 for his new club, failing to score a single goal or register a single assist thus far. According to Squawka, Janko has a shot accuracy of 50%, has created four chances for his teammates, averages a passing accuracy of 79% – with his average pass being 15 metres, has made an average of three defensive actions per match – not yet making a defensive error. Perhaps Janko has found a club he can get his career back on track after failing to do so thus far into his career. At just 22, he still has time to reach for the stars.

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