Man United old boy has no axe to grind but ‘no friends’ for Europa clash

Date published: Monday 15th February 2021 12:14 - Neil Foster

Adnan Januzaj Real Sociedad v Barcelona January 2021

Adnan Januzaj insists he will have no extra motivation when playing against former club Manchester United for Real Sociedad this week.

Januzaj, 26, will face United in the first leg of the Europa League last-32 on Thursday. Having spent time in the Red Devils’ youth set-up, the Belgium international made his United debut in September 2013.

Despite being just 18 years old, he made 15 top-flight starts among 27 appearances in 2013-2014. Operating mainly out wide, he chipped in with four goals and locked an exciting talent.

However, the departure of David Moyes as manager and arrival of Louis van Gaal changed everything. He became a peripheral figure and enjoyed only 18 outings and seven starts the next season.

The Dutch manager was keen to bring in more experience and it was inevitable that Januzaj would be on his way. Loans to Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland followed before he signed permanent terms with Sociedad in July 2017.

The Brussels-born ace has seen plenty of action for the La Liga side. Although starting many games on the bench, he has racked up 108 appearances for La Reales, scoring 16 goals.

His next task will be to go up against his former team, with the first leg being held in Turin. That is due to Spanish coronavirus restrictions but the sides will do it all again at Old Trafford on February 25.

It would be easy for the pacey midfielder to go into the game with an agenda. But he has made it clear that is not the case.

“I don’t have to prove to anyone, I know my qualities,” he told ESPN. “I don’t have to prove to anyone how good I am, I just have to believe in myself, get my games and be happy.”

Mixed feelings

Januzaj admits that he was disappointed with the way things turned out at United. He had seen his long-term future at the Theatre of Dreams.

But despite getting a rough deal in Manchester, he is looking forward to returning – to do a job.

“I’m really happy to go back there, the club I love,” he added. “Once I’m on the pitch, there’s going to be no friends because obviously I’m playing for another club now and also I want to win the game.

“I want to go through with my team. I’m really happy to go back there to see the people but once I’m on the pitch there will be no friends.”

United were linked with a move to re-sign the player back in November last year but nothing materialised.


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