Adnan Januzaj has discussed why he wasn’t rated by Louis van Gaal, wearing the No 11 shirt and how he plans to resurrect his career at Manchester United.
Januzaj – on a season-long loan with Sunderland – has reportedly been put up for sale by Manchester United with the club ready to accept a bid of just £8.5m for a player, who has lost his way in recent seasons.
Great things were expected from Januzaj when he inherited the legendary No 11 shirt from Ryan Giggs.
Yet he did not click with former boss Van Gaal, who never really played him in what the youngster believes is his best position.
And speaking about his struggles to the Belgian press, Januzaj said: “I had a difficult year but that’s football. You have to take it like a man.
“It has not worked with Van Gaal. But you must always work and show people who have not believed in me that I have the qualities.
“Giggs was an icon and gave me his number. He always told me that if I needed him for something, I could always go to him. But I was always a No 10, not a left winger or right winger or a striker. That’s how I grew up.”
Januzaj, who is also close to United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan from their days together at Dortmund, takes heart from the way his Belgium team-mate Marouane Fellaini has turned things around at Old Trafford.
The former Everton midfielder looked destined for the exit door but has secured an extra 12 months at United in recent weeks – and was the hero of the EFL Cup win over Hull.
Januzaj said: “It is not easy to go nine years in England, playing at the highest level like Marouane has done. He played at Everton and that is also a top club. He is mentally strong and many players do not have that. It is an asset for him.
“With all the criticism he has received, he has continued to perform at a top level. He’s a good friend — and he can help United.”
It is more than three years now since Januzaj burst on to the scene at United — ironically with a couple of goals at Sunderland in October 2013.
He seems to have been around a long time but is keen to stress he is still only at the start of his career and is convinced the best is yet to come.
Januzaj said: “I’ve played a lot of games as a pro. That’s why people think I’m older than I actually am. “Some estimate me to be 25 or 26 because I started very early. People forget that I’m only 21.
“I have received a lot of criticism. People talk about things they know nothing about. I’ve always been mentally strong.
“The criticism will not hurt me. It is true that the fans might criticise me more than any other player at Sunderland.
“That’s because they know I’m a player who can make the difference at any time. But the team is not just me. Therefore, we must keep working.”