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Thursday, 10 October 2013

After the Paul Pogba debacle, Manchester United must pull out the stops to keep hold of Adnan Januzaj

After the Paul Pogba debacle, Manchester United must pull out the stops to keep hold of Adnan Januzaj

The Red Devils must ensure their best young talent stays at Old Trafford, starting with their new sensation
Young guns: Pogba is shining at Juventus, while Januzaj is begging to make his mark
Young guns: Pogba is shining at Juventus, while Januzaj is begging to make his mark
John Peters
"If we hold Pogba back, what's going to happen? He's going to leave, in a couple of years’ time, when his contract finishes. So we have to give him the opportunity to see how he can do in the first-team." - Sir Alex Ferguson, August 2011.
David Moyes may have endured a turbulent start to his Manchester United reign, but at least it seems he is determined not to repeat a rare mistake from his illustrious predecessor.
For a manager whose belief in young players and willingness to give them a chance was so famous, Sir Alex Ferguson's reluctance to hand young midfielder Paul Pogba the gametime he wanted was puzzling in the extreme.
Pogba, a dynamic, powerful and technically-gifted midfielder was rated as one of the most outstanding prospects at Old Trafford, and likened to former Arsenal midfield colossus Patrick Vieira when he joined from French club Le Havre in October 2009.
But a lack of first-team opportunities, despite Ferguson's public endorsements of his ability and United's stated desire to do whatever it took to keep him, saw Pogba become disillusioned at United and he left, for free, to join Juventus in the summer of 2012.
Since then, Pogba has become a regular for the Old Lady, starting six of their seven Serie A matches this season and holding his own alongside the venerable Andrea Pirlo in central midfield.
Spectacular goals and game-changing performances have characterised Pogba's time at Juventus, leaving United fans to think what might have been had they been able to keep the 20-year-old at Old Trafford. With United short of quality and options in central midfield, what wouldn't Moyes give to have a player of Pogba's stature in his squad?
Paul Pogba
Departed son: Paul Pogba making rare appearance in red
Rex
So United fans could be forgiven for worrying whether 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj, who marked his first Premier League start with two stunning goals in United's 2-1 win at Sunderland on Saturday, is destined to follow the same route as Pogba, out of Old Trafford, at the end of the season.
Januzaj is out of contract next summer and his prodigious talent has Manchester City, Barcelona and Juventus pursuing him , with United acutely aware they have a fight on their hands to keep one of European football's most exciting prospects.
So far, Januzaj has said all the right things, proclaiming himself to be happy at United, trotting out the usual line about working hard to show what he can do, and paying tribute to the likes of Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra for mentoring him.
Januzaj appears settled in Manchester, where he frequents the city's Tai Pan Chinese restaurant as well as exclusive shops including Burberry, where he was spotted shopping the day after his two-goal heroics for United. He is also said to have a girlfriend who hails from nearby Altrincham.
But behind the scenes it is a different story. Moyes has admitted there are "other influences" at work, namely Januzaj's father and the player's agent Dirk De Vriese, both of whom are said to want to secure the best financial package for the youngster. Whether the most lucrative offer out there will also equate to the best outcome for Januzaj's development as a player remains to be seen.
What seems certain is that with other clubs willing to pay exorbitant amounts to lure Januzaj, United are going to have to offer the Belgium-born teenager a sizeable wage - as much as £50,000-a-week - and a contract of around four years to give themselves a realistic chance of keeping him.
It is generally accepted that Pogba's agent, Mino Raiola, made significantly more out of the move to Juventus than the player himself, which explains, in part, United's reluctance to pay what it would have taken to keep the midfielder, although a lack of first-team opportunities was also a major factor.
But, when it comes to Januzaj, United are likely to have to bite the bullet and accept they will have to pay a player who, only six days before his stunning display at Sunderland , was turning out for their reserves, an inflated wage for someone of his age, just to keep him from defecting to a rival club.          
Adnan Januzaj in action with Danny Gabbidon
Hot property: Januzaj is already attracting attention
Getty
In recent years United fans have seen exciting young talents like Pogba, Gerard Pique and Ravel Morrison leave Old Trafford, all for varying reasons, some of the departures easier for fans to accept than others.
But there is no way United can afford to lose another bright young thing in Januzaj, irrespective of the murky forces that have cast doubt on where his future lies.
United have arguably the best record in English football when it comes to promoting young players, stretching from the Busby Babes, through to the Class of '92 that comprised Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers, with another raw talent, Giggs, having already made his first-team debut.
Januzaj may have been plucked from Anderlecht at the age of 16, but in two years he has been imbued with what it means to be a United player, and he stands on the threshold of a potentially glittering career at one of the world's most iconic clubs.
United have been reluctant to break the bank in the past when it comes to young players, sticking to their wage structure on a point of principle as much as anything else. But every now and then a unique talent comes along that requires exceptions to be made. That talent is Januzaj.
The ball is in United's court. In simple terms, they must pay what it takes to keep Januzaj and further endorse their status as the club where young talent can flourish and realise its rich potential.

Check out all the latest News, Sport & Celeb gossip at Mirror.co.uk http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/manchester-united-news-paul-pogba-2350087#ixzz2hJA2sm3Z

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