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Michael Laudrup Foreshadowed The Fall Of Adnan Januzaj At The Height Of His Hype

Michael Laudrup Foreshadowed The Fall Of Adnan Januzaj At The Height Of His Hype
By Mikey Traynor

In January of 2014, most Manchester United fans were absolutely certain they had seen the next great academy product, and a teenage star to build the team around in Adnan Januzaj.

He exploded onto the scene with two goals on his first start to beat Sunderland 2-1, and rode that wave of confidence for the remainder of the season as he ghosted past defenders with ease, looked a constant threat, and made the senior pros who were struggling badly under David Moyes look even worse.

For that season he offered hope in an otherwise miserable campaign, but he was playing with the freedom that comes without the weight of expectation. When that arrived, and was intensified by his inheritance of the #11 shirt at Old Trafford, 'the boy who can do anything' was never seen again.

Some thought it was Van Gaal's methods stifling his development, but a disastrous reunion with David Moyes at Sunderland suggests it was too much, too soon for Januzaj, and he very much had the look of a player who thought he had made it when in reality his career had not yet started.

Remarkably, as pointed out by James Ducker in an excellent piece for the Telegraph on Januzaj's fall from grace, former Swansea manager Michael Laudrup essentially called it back in 2014.

With opposition managers talking Januzaj up on a weekly basis, and David Moyes gushing over his fearlessness at every opportunity, Laudrup went against the trend and warned that he had not quite conquered the game just yet.

I hope he’s the kind of player who knows he will have to develop and move on, not think that just because you’ve played 10 games in the Premier League then you’re already at the top.

Otherwise, sometimes unfortunately, you can see players who play 10 or 15 games at the top level and everyone tells them they’re so great and they believe it and think they’re already in the top three in the world. I don’t know because he’s still so young but ask me the same question in three years.

A little over 3 years later, Laudrup's concerns are exactly how the situation played out.

Januzaj's decision, against the wishes of Van Gaal, to join Borussia Dortmund on loan suggests that he believed he was good enough to walk into their team and gain some first-team experience to bring back to Old Trafford and kick on.

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Instead, he was publicly criticised by Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel for not working hard enough, and for showing exactly what Laudrup was talking about.

The Danish legend himself joined Juventus as a 19-year-old where it would have been very easy for him to think that he had made it, but he never lost touch with what got him to that position, kept working hard, and went on to achieve great things in the game with Barcelona and Denmark.

While Januzaj's career is not over - and Man Utd did insist on a first-option clause should the Belgian rediscover his hunger to improve - the move to Spain, you would feel, is his last chance to see if he can find the correct attitude to get the most out of his clear talent.

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Does he want it enough? We'll soon find out.

You can read Ducker's piece on Januzaj in full over on Telegraph.co.uk.

SEE ALSO: Why Adnan Januzaj's Loan To Dortmund Is One Of The Worst Deals Ever

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