Manchester United faces the possibility of losing yet another one of its young talents, Adnan Januzaj, to Serie A champions Juventus.
Januzaj, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season, is reportedly holding out on signing a long term deal until he is provided assurances that he will be handed an active role in the club’s title defense.
Thus far the attacking midfielder has made a single Premier League appearance, coming on as substitute against Crystal Palace. The 18-year-old’s performance raised eyebrows, as he bossed the Palace defense with an array of slick skills, pin-point passes and sleek speed.
Sniffing out Moyes’ reservations in making Januzaj a regular, Juventus is reportedly making a strong push for the Belgian and have contacted his agent to begin contract negotiations as soon as possible.
If true, the move mimics last year’s push by Juve to acquire Paul Pogba after the player became disenfranchised with United following Sir Alex Ferguson’s refusal to insert him into the team. Sensing that he’d have to wait years to play, Pogba refused to sign a new contract and when his deal expired in January, signed with Juve, who welcomed him with open arms.
The acquisition of Pogba proved vital for the Turin club’s title run, with the Frenchman producing a number of fantastic midfield performances. The loss of Pogba was a difficult pill for Sir Alex to swallow but one that the manager put on himself by denying the player the playing time he deserved.
Now history may be repeating itself with Januzaj. It’s a situation that David Moyes can’t afford to mess up. Already criticized for his summer transfer deals (or lack thereof) and uninspiring tactics in last weekend’s derby, the failure to lock down Januzaj – or worse, to lose him to Juventus – would be a PR nightmare for United.
Moyes’ reluctancy to play Januzaj may stem from his youth and inexperience. The former Everton boss was notoriously timid in blooding Ross Barkley despite his obvious talent and physical development. New manager Roberto Martinez, however, has had no such problems in playing the 19 year old, who has been a creative revelation in the Toffee’s midfield.
There’s little reason to think Januzaj can’t provide a similar impact for United. Certainly his insertion could go a long way towards solving the lack of midfield creative elements at United. Januzaj would provide a fresh change of pace from the distinct lack of imagination in Ashley Young’s play, or, with Robin van Persie struggling with injury, could be a cheeky play behind Wayne Rooney.
One way or the other Moyes needs to put the Januzaj issue to bed, and fast.