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Would Januzaj Suffer The Same Fate As Raheem Sterling Did Last Season?

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Top clubs and Top future talents in EPL – Possibly not the match made in heaven

adnan januzaj david moyes

So the winter transfer market is long gone, and Juan Mata has transferred to Manchester United. Gone are the days of Mata wearing a Chelsea shirt; gone are the days of media speculation of Mata’s breakup with Jose Mourinho, or his uncertain future in the Stamford Bridge.

And gone, perhaps, are the good chunk of minutes that Adnan Januzaj would have played had Mata not made it to the Old Trafford (hypothetically). Now that the £37.1m wizard has joined the red devils, along with Robin van Persie back to goalscoring form and Wayne Rooney still coy over his contract renewal, David Moyes has little choice but to start all three players, leaving only one spot open for Januzaj to compete with Young, Valencia, and Kagawa. Barring potential fitness issues or injuries among the three first-choice attackers, Januzaj may find himself benched more often than he did during the last 5 months.

This strikes as a déjà vu to Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling last season, in which he also found his game time significantly cut after the signing of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho in January. Both Januzaj and Sterling are highly talented young players, in need of senior game time in order to develop themselves into top class players.


Raheem Sterling’s appearance record for season 12-13,
before (left) and after (right) the start of January transfer window

What’s more concerning to me is that the situations of the two are still some of the best amongst those all young players; at least the two have been fortunate enough to get the chances to prove their talent and abilities. So many other young players in the Premier League don’t even get such chances they may deserve. One glaring example that comes into my mind, as many others have also pointed out, is Paul Pogba – the undroppable engine of Serie A champions who was frozen out during his spell at Old Trafford, despite the massive talent he has now proven to have.

Another example I would pick is Romelu Lukaku – the top scorer for West Bromwich Albion last season, and current top scorer for Everton, Lukaku has certainly made massive development by playing regularly for two seasons on loan; had he stayed at Chelsea, he wouldn’t have gotten either the game times he is now getting, or the recognition he now has as a competent player at the top level. How many other “Pogba”s or “Lukaku”s in the Premier League teams are squandering their precious talents and careers, fallen out of favor over the slew of more experienced players brought in season after season? Alas, we’ll never know.

It’s a complicated problem, to be fair. The reality is that football managers, especially those in the high-performing clubs, have little freedom to provide senior-level game time to youth players just for the sake of their development. Constantly under pressure to perform and win in every single game in their hands, the managers are made to focus more on games next week than games next season, by which they might be sacked if their current performances are substandard.

Therefore, if the young players fail to produce the results the managers need in a few games – and most of them would – the managers would understandably feel inclined to purchase players who can bring instant results than stick to their currently mediocre youths for future improvements. To point our blaming fingers at the managers would be very harsh.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that young, talented players like Januzaj and Sterling are not likely to get the amount of game time they deserve in their current clubs in the Premier League. While it is up to them to decide whether to stay in their current clubs and fight for a spot in the starting XI, it would perhaps be more advisable for them to look for regular game time opportunities outside their clubs, either by loan or permanent transfer.

 Stats taken from squawka