Where will Januzaj's best position end up being?

Old Trafford 3

Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj has set the theatre of dreams alight with his recent performances for the Red Devils after making his debut this season.

The 18-year-old Belgian-born attacker has featured for United as a winger so far and tends to be deployed at both junior and senior level on the left of midfield but, given the immense talent he has, will he remain there for his entire career?

Januzaj joined the Premier League champions in 2011 as a 16-year-old from Anderlecht where he had developed from the age of 10 after a four-year spell at FC Brussels a stone's throw away from where he was born.

He has made his first start for United against Sunderland earlier this month and sensationally stole the show, scoring a brace after featuring as a substitute against Crystal Palace and West Brom.

David Moyes gave the youngster an opportunity and he didn’t disappoint and star striker Robin van Persie has said of the young man who he observes in training that he is up there with the one or two best young players he has ever seen in terms of his technique and application. He literally has the world at his feet.

Who knows what the future holds for the teenager, but given his talent there is the prospect he could be the kind of talent of Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo and both of them have developed and adapted their game as well as their position.

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Bale started his career at Southampton and Tottenham as a left fullback, and was converted by Harry Redknapp into a left winger before Andre Villas-Boas moved him to a more central attacking midfield playmaker role, close to a number 10.

If Januzaj has that kind of range and quality, technique, vision and threat in front of goal that Bale does at 24, perhaps he would be better suited and more effective as a central attacking midfielder – the kind of role that Wayne Rooney plays (albeit somewhat begrudgingly) now for the Red Devils.

Cristiano Ronaldo has also been deployed more centrally, just in behind the centre forward at Real Madrid – at United, Sir Alex Ferguson would alternate playing him on the left and right flank where he was supremely dangerous.

If you think of the positional transition of four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi it is also interesting to hypothesize – the Argentine broke into the first team in Catalonia as a left winger, was moved inside as an attacking midfielder, then slightly nuanced into a trequartista before being deployed as even a striker at times when Barcelona had their centre forwards injured.

At 5ft11”, he’s a similar stature to Gareth Bale and if he works on his upper body and core strength he could physically fill out in a similar way down the line. Messi has a much lower centre of gravity at 5ft11” compared to Ronaldo at 6ft1” and their frames and muscular compositions are very different.

In five or even ten years time Januzaj may be physically much more powerful and be able to assert himself but then again he could end up with a similar frame to someone like Dimitar Berbatov – slender and elegant – or, similarly, Ryan Giggs.

I would imagine (and suppose) that he will likely take up the kind of positions Ronaldo and Bale like to and, thus, he’ll probably be ideally suited to play, strangely enough, exactly where he does now – on the left wing.

image: © Gordon Flood

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