A year to remember for Manchester United's 19-year-old wonderkid

Adnan Januzaj's rise to prominence has been swift and he is now considered one of Manchester United's key components.

It speaks volumes about Adnan Januzaj's stock at Manchester United that it has now become a matter of necessity rather than desire to field the youngster in the starting XI.

His goal-scoring cameo at Sunderland, when he rescued United from the depths of despair to snatch a 2-1 win, made him the sole plus point on an otherwise dismal debut season for David Moyes in the United hotseat.

He was recently crowned United's Player of the Month for January for maintaining his consistency into the New Year and has become the face of United's new era, with a changing of the guard in its early stages at Old Trafford.

Reports suggest the likes of Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Nani will leave this summer, as Moyes moulds the team into his team. One which contests for honours at the top end of the table rather than the current ensemble which have slipped into mid-table obscurity.

Januzaj has been one of very few who can claim to have stepped up to the plate in recent months, but that should not detract from just how far he has come in the last 12 months and, on the day he celebrates his 19th birthday, it should be remembered this is a player who should be all about the tomorrow.

That he is currently the only United player to shout about today signals the value of the internationally in-demand youngster.

His journey began in February last year, scoring his first under-21's Premier League goal against Southampton just three days shy of his 18th birthday before a goal and an assist against Oldham and Arsenal respectively.

April represented the next big step for Januzaj as he was handed a Premier League squad number. The number 44, though, has come to belie his role in this United squad this season. He is not so much on the fringes of the first team as he is cemented into the left-wing position.

The month of May was also significant. He was named the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year before taking his place among the substitutes in Sir Alex Ferguson's final match in charge, in a 5-5 draw at West Bromwich Albion, before then playing his part in helping the under-21's secure the title.

David Moyes showed his faith in the prodigious Januzaj by naming him in a 19-man squad for the Red Devils' pre-season tour, where he would make three starts and notch a goal for good measure.

It felt crucial to his first-team chances this season when he came on in United's Community Shield win over Wigan Athletic and he has gone from strength to strength ever since, with the quickfire double at the Stadium of Light the highlight, securing the club's Goal of the Month award and also securing the player equivalent for his efforts.

A new five-year-deal at the club, a nomination for BBC Sport's Young Sports Personality of the Year and a third goal of the season against West Ham United further strengthened his burgeoning reputation.

It has been a whirlwind year, that much is for sure, for United's next big hope, and his club's struggles must not shadow a remarkable 12 months individually for Januzaj.

image: © joncandy

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