It’s quite incredible to think Adnan Januzaj has played only five professional matches so far in his career for Manchester United, but at the young age of 18, he’s the subject of what seems to be an intensifying war between football associations, as Belgium, Albania, Serbia and even England, although he really hasn’t done that much in his career.
Born in Belgium, he’s obviously eligible to play for them. Born to Albanian parents, he can play for Albania. He can also play for Serbia due to the disputed status of his parents’ homeland of Kosovo. He is also eligible to represent Kosovo at international football although they do not have a FIFA-affiliated team but do have a FIFA-sanctioned youth team which plays in non-FIFA and non-confederation tournaments and exhibition games against full FIFA members.
There’s also England, as Roy Hodgson, quite keen on letting young players in to the England setup, but due to the Home nations agreement, until he spends five years in the United Kingdom, he won’t be eligible to be picked for the national team. Januzaj has been playing for Manchester United since 2011, so unless some exception is made, he’ll have to wait until 2016.
Heating up the situation is Marc Wilmots, Belgium’s manager, who really doesn’t have any problems in terms of talent and selection right now.
It is impossible to negotiate with me. The boy was born in Belgium, should he say that he wants to play for Belgium – from there, there is no haggling. I’m not going to play that game. The kid is available? He wants to play? Then perfect, okay, show me. “If you’re at the top level in Manchester or elsewhere, show me your skills and if I need you I will call. I make no promises, to Januzaj or any person!”
Wilmost has been asked quite a lot about Januzaj recently, but it seems like the Januzaj family and especially his father is trying to make the most of the situation, and get Belgium to call him up, threatning that if it doesn’t happen soon, they’ll pick someone else.
Considering Januzaj has never played for any international youth team and he really is just making his first steps in professional football, not to mention Belgium having quite the loaded squad, just now qualifying to the World Cup for the first time since 2002, they can do without the youngster short term. However, if he is as talented as his first matches suggested, missing out on him will be a big miss for anyone. Manchester United, trying to discuss a contract extension, are having the same problem, as it seems the early success has gone to his head in terms of demands.