The struggle to land Adnan Januzaj continues on the international level and it appears Belgium’s chances of doing so may have taken a hit.
The Brussels-born talent, who, under FIFA sanctions is currently eligible to play for Belgium, Albania, Serbia and Turkey, continues to weigh his options under the heavy influence of his father, Abedin.
Belgium have long been trying to convince Januzaj to play for them but, over the weekend, Diables Rouges manager Marc Wilmots brought the United sensation back to earth with his comments. “It is impossible to negotiate with me,” Wilmots said. “The kid is available? He wants to play? Then perfect, okay, show me.
“If you’re at the top level in Manchester, show me your skills and if I need you I will call. I make no promises!”
The soundbite didn’t go over well with Januzaj Sr. Furious, Abedin said, “This is shameless. We never reacted on selections, phone calls or letters from the Belgian FA. They are requesting his selection, not us. Wilmots’ remarks won’t make it easier now. We are angry about these comments.”
Not a good sign for Belgium. So was Wilmots out of line with his comments?
At first blush, yes. Clearly, adding more talent to an already star-studded side can only lead to good things. Plus, Januzaj’s two goal performance against Sunderland was a strong indication of his “skills”.
Then again, it was only one game. Yes, the talent is there but whether consistency accompanies it remains to be seen. Factor in that David Moyes has never been partial to consistently playing young players (one need not look further back than his time at Everton with Ross Barkley) and there’s at least a chance that Januzaj doesn’t capitalize – or have the opportunity to capitalize – on all the recent press he’s received.
From a PR standpoint, however, Wilmots could have been a bit more careful with his quotes. Given Belgium’s sensational talent pool the manager is merely being honest in noting that competition for spots is thick. But saying things like “if I need you” and “I make no promises” is just inflammatory, especially to a hot-blooded and overly influential papa like Abedin.
The spat will come as a delight to England, who the Daily Mail claims have already been given a strong indication that Januzaj would prefer to play for the Three Lions, assuming he earns FIFA sanctioning to do so under the residency requirement.
There may be a World Cup on the horizon but don’t bank on this situation clearing itself up anytime soon.