Adnan Januzaj has spoken of his regret at seeing his Manchester United career slip away – and feels Louis van Gaal is to blame for his Old Trafford career going down the pan.
The Belgian rose to prominence at Old Trafford when he was handed his debut as an 18-year-old by David Moyes in what was one of the few brights spots of a difficult season for the club.
But Moyes’ departure led to a change of fortunes for Januzaj, and four years on the player finds himself with Spanish side Real Sociedad, having been sold by Jose Mourinho in the summer.
The Belgian largely attributes his demise at Old Trafford to Van Gaal’s arrival in 2014; Januzaj claiming the Dutchman shackled United’s style and simultaneously strangled his enjoyment of the game.
Discussing Van Gaal’s time in charge, Januzaj told the Daily Mail: “There was not the same freedom. A winger needs that confidence, a manager telling you, ‘Go and take people on’. With him, it was a slow passing game.
“For some it was difficult. You could see some players were not enjoying the football.
“The manager and I had many difficult meetings. I was frustrated and everyone could see that I was not the same Adnan as the first year. I was sometimes even in the stands. When you work hard in training and then get left out, it’s hard for a young guy.”
“As a footballer, if you think too much on the pitch, it is never good. You need instinct in your play. When the ball came to us, we had to stop and think, “What are we going to do with it here?”, ‘I can’t lose the ball’.”
Januzaj started eight games in the Van Gaal’s first season, before being sent out on loan at Borussia Dortmund where his struggles continued.
A loan switch to Sunderland – and a reunion with Moyes – came last season, before he returned to Old Trafford – only for Mourinho to sanction his departure to Sociedad for a fee of around £10million.