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Where Are They Now? Adnan Januzaj – Cristiano Ronaldo comparisons suggested he was the boy that could do anything

Nine years ago, Manchester United signed 16-year-old Adnan Januzaj from Anderlecht after impressing in a skills session in Brussels, Belgium. After a seemingly glittering career in the academy at United, Januzaj was promoted to the first team during the 2012/13 season, which was also Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at the club before retirement. Januzaj never featured inn the first team for Ferguson but was an unused substitute in his final game as United manager, a 5-5 draw with West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.

For his performances for the then U21s, now the U23s, Januzaj was awarded the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award for the 2012/13 season. Under the management of David Moyes, despite this being his ill-fated season at the Old Trafford club, Januzaj kept his place in the first team squad, playing in the pre-season tour of Asia, scoring in the final tour match against Kitchee. In Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial at Old Trafford, Januzaj started, assisting United’s only goal in the 3-1 defeat to Sevilla.

In his debut season at the club, which was also his best in terms of bringing something to the team, Januzaj played 35 times in all competitions, scoring four goals and six assists – United only won the FA Community Shield that season, seeing Moyes sacked at Easter time and finishing seventh in the Premier League – the worst season to date. Ryan Giggs was the caretaker manager for the final four matches of the season with Louis van Gaal installed as the permanent manager during the summer, prior to the 2014/15 season, which needed to be a good one for United.

Januzaj only played 21 times that season, failing to score a single goal or assist, at least in the first team. Januzaj was loaned to Borussia Dortmund for the 2015/16 season, but after 12 appearances for the club, with no goals and three assists to his name, his loan spell was ended on the 6 January 2016 and he returned to United. He played seven times for United, scoring one goal and it was starting to look like the end of the road for the player at United.

During the 2016/17 season, Januzaj was loaned to Sunderland for the entire season, linking up with Moyes. Despite playing 28 times for the first team, the Belgian scored just one goal, assisting three times for the club. It was clear that Moyes rated the player but his lack of performances on loan would not keep him at United. In the summer of 2017, Januzaj signed a five-year contract with La Liga side Real Sociedad. It was a shame to see another bright youngster leave United, especially after periods of promise.

With United still reeling from the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo at the time he broke through into the first team, with some comparisons at the time, many were let down. In his debut season (2017/18) in Spain, Januzaj made a total of 35 appearances for the Basque club, scoring four goals and a further six assists, playing in La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Europa League. During the 2018/19 season, Januzaj played just 24 times, scoring twice and assisting four more goals for his club.

In the 2019/20 season, which was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, Januzaj seems to be finding his feet and showing some promise. In 29 appearances throughout the season, before and after the coronavirus pandemic, the now 25-year-old has scored eight goals, assisting a further four, playing in La Liga and the Copa del Rey. So far, it was the best season of the Belgian’s career and it could be the start of something for the winger. It was a shame he never really made it at United but that does not mean he did not have ability – he had plenty of it. He has two goals in six appearances this season.

Different things happen at different times and people react differently. I am glad his career is seemingly picking up. As yet, it is not yet know whether La Liga will continue this season, if it does, Januzaj will be seeking to pick up where he left off. Real Sociedad were fourth in the league at the time the league was suspended, which could bring riches to the club in the form of European football. Seeing Januzaj shine will make me smile. The boy could do anything, except make it work at United.

Written by John Walker

Jan Vertonghen hints at Premier League stay as he’s linked to Manchester United

Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen has hinted that he could be set to remain in the Premier League this summer after leaving Spurs as a free agent after eight years at the club. The 33-year-old gave nothing away, refusing to rule out signing for a club in the Premier League this summer. As a free agent, the player will be weighing up his options as he contemplates his next move. The plater was reported by The Sun as saying:

“I’m considering the options and making a good choice. That will be out probably sooner rather than later.

“Obviously the window now is longer than it was last year, so we’ve got a bit of time to assess the best option.”

The Belgian defender was then asked about his next move and pressed on whether he could remain on the Premier League going into the 2020/21 season. Many will be wondering if there could be something in the links to Manchester United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is seeking a partner for Harry Maguire, although they club has been linked with Nathan Ake, Gabriel Magalhaes and Pau Torres. Vertonghen, when asked about remaining in the Premier League, replied by saying:

“It will all depend on the options. I’ve got something in my head and we’ll see if that will come around or not.”

Vertonghen signed for Spurs back in 2012 for £12 million and has made 315 appearances for the club, scoring 14 goals and seven assists in his time there. I am sure that he has plenty to offer his next club but I wonder if he could be the player to provide a partnership role to Maguire. The player has suffered eight major injuries at Spurs which could be something that happens at his new club, possibly more regularly because of his age. He would be a free agent so could allow Solskjaer to spend in other areas this summer.

That aside, I wonder if signing him, if United are interested, would be the best thing for the club. His experience could help the likes of Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe, who seem to be the more trusted defensive players at the club right now and could help the likes of Ethan Laird and Teden Mengi in their development at the club. In terms of playing back to back matches and helping to guide United in the Premier League title race, I have my doubts.

Vertonghen is a classy player and has played some great matches for Spurs, but has also been involved on some poor matches, which is something that could be said for many players around the world right now. The 33-year-old is a professional player and has been lauded as that by manager Jose Mourinho and he was a crowd favourite whilst at Spurs. Speaking about his past season to talkSPORT, as reported by The Sun, Vertonghen said:

“I felt like I owed that to him and to Spurs in general, as it wasn’t my best season and I could be quite disappointed at times.

“But it was my task to train hard and respect team-mates when I wasn’t playing or on the bench, and I hope I did that.

“I had a great time, made a lot of friends and learned a lot of things both off the pitch and on the pitch.

“I will miss everyone, it’s been a great ride and it could have lasted longer but it is time now for it to end.”

Written by John Walker

Manchester United and Spurs in race to sign Belgian right-back who is free agent this summer – reports

Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly interested in signing Paris Saint-Germain right-back Thomas Meunier who is a free agent this summer. The reports state that the Belgian, 28, who has had a contract offer on the table at PSG since the autumn, seemingly not interested in signing it, therefore leaving the Paris club for free.

It is stated that Jose Mourinho, United’s former manager, is likely to pip his former club to the right-back, who is supposedly wanted by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, this all seems a bit pointless being that United will seek to sell Diogo Dalot this summer, who is behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the right-back position.

Personally, I feel that Meunier was a target for United when Mourinho was the manager and the media have still continued suggesting that the player is a target, when in actual fact, with Wan-Bissaka’s performances this season, and the fact that Brandon Williams can play on either flank, not to mention the likes of Ethan Laird coming through the U23s.

It is reported that Meunier would like to stay at PSG after his contract aspired at the end of next month, but the fact he has not signed a new contract suggests either that he expects to leave the club and is being nice or that he’s not happy with the contract offer and would like to run the clock down so he can get more of what he wants to stay.

If this happens, despite the report suggesting that Spurs are ahead of United, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be United the misses out on a player that they do not really need at this moment in time. I mean, Axel Tuanzebe has played as a right-back for some of his career so far with Tim Fosu-Mensah also playing in that position.

The 28-year-old would not fall into Solskjaer’s youth category, which makes this a rumour that carries little weight and I doubt the former striker would change his plans to sign a free agent like Meunier, especially with the youth available to use in this position, which would be a bit part role being that Wan-Bissaka has earned his stripes this season.

This season, before the coronavirus pandemic suspended world football, then France cancelled all sporting events until September, which in turn ended Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 with PSG as the champions once again, Meunier has played a total of 27 times for PSG, scoring one goal and assisting two more. He may well have played his last game for PSG.

The club, however, is still in the UEFA Champions League after beating Borussia Dortmund 3-2 on aggregate in the round of 16 of the competition and with UEFA led competitions set to happen later in the summer, rumoured to be in August. Meunier, if that contract offer is not accepted, could have left he club before then, signing for another.

Still, that being said, it seems to be something that United will have little involvement in as I cannot see why Solskjaer would be interested in another right-back, considering the options at the club at this moment in time. Unless Wan-Bissaka is injured, he will play. United have many rotation options to get them through, so this is a non story for me.

copyright: JW