Would we see as much hype over Januzaj if he played for Sunderland?

Adnan Januzaj (low qual)

With 30 mins left at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, Manchester United were 1-1 against the Black Cats – enter 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj.

Actually, the Belgian teenager had scored the Red Devils’ first goal to draw them level in the first place but his second and United’s winner would become the goal that has the country and the world learning how to pronounce his name.

Januzaj fever has swept the nation this week in the aftermath of the game, which, on paper looked like an easy away win for United who have struggled to find victories under new boss David Moyes so far this season.

They haven’t had much to get excited about recently, United fans – a summer of transfer failings, a dismal start to the season, and a big question mark over the new boss and the team who sit 9th in the Premier League thanks to the triumph at the Stadium of Light.

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However, two superbly taken goals from an 18-year-old hailed as ‘the next Cristiano Ronaldo’ has given them plenty of reason for optimism. Now, a tussle has broken out over his future – for both club and country.

England boss Roy Hodgson, as well as Wayne Rooney, have asserted their hopes he opts to play for England (which he could, technically) whilst Belgium national team coach Marc Wilmots insists the boy has yet to decide his future but, being Belgian-born, he hopes he chooses his country of birth but he could also qualify as Albanian or Serbian due to his parents’ ethnic backgrounds in their homeland of Kosovo.

He has the world at his feet (literally) and the weight of the world’s expectation – it was as if a star in the (North) East led Manchester United to their Messiah on Saturday but I wonder if he played for Sunderland whether there would be quite as much of a noise being made about him?

Firstly, he is a very very talented and exciting young player – I’m not denying his exceptional ability – but they’re calling him the next Ronaldo. I wonder if he played for the Black Cats whether they’d be calling him ‘the next Len Shackleton’ instead?

He made his first ever start for United this weekend and whilst his debut was the stuff of dreams, he’s got a long way to go before he makes his name at the Theatre of Dreams. The first thing he must do is sign a long-term contract.

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