Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata believes teenage teammate Adnan Januzaj has what it takes to become one of the leading stars of the game.
The 19-year-old Belgian international emerged on the scene last season under David Moyes, scoring four goals in 27 Premier League games, before earning a surprise call-up to Marc Wilmots’ World Cup squad.
He has since seen his first-team minutes restricted under new manager Louis van Gaal with the arrival of Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera, but Mata, who joined him at Old Trafford from Chelsea last winter, believes his positional rival has all the tools to become a world class talent.
‘I have really good teammates at Manchester United, like Rooney, but I was surprised by Januzaj [when I arrived at Old Trafford],’ he told Spanish newspaper El Pais.
‘He is great. I can see every day that has a unique left foot. He must have patience but if he has it we will be talking about an extraordinary player.’
Mata also went on to praise summer arrivals Radamel Falcao and Di Maria, adding: ‘Angel is a phenomenon. He adds many things to United, he is very intense with the ball, very electric. He intimidates the rivals and forces them to play very back.
‘And Falcao is a wonderful person, very humble, and a top goalscorer. It's amazing how he moves in the area, how he is always ready to score. It's pure instinct. He had a major injury, but he is now recovered.’
Like Januzaj, Mata himself is struggling to become a regular fixture in Van Gaal’s plans, but the £37.1 million man maintains that he can have a bright future at the club under the tutelage of the Dutchman.
‘[Van Gaal] has a lot of experience and I can learn a lot from him. He says things in a firm way, intensely, but then he's somebody who is very close with the players. He really likes to talk with us, to ask us what we think about the exercises that we do in training.’