Adnan Januzaj is just 18 but after his match winning performance for Manchester United at the weekend, there has been a lot of talk about which country he will go on to play for. Even England are in the running as a potential possibility, although this could not happen until 2018 due to residency grounds.
The Brussels born player began his career at Belgian side Anderlecht, but moved to United when he was 16 for a fee in the region of £300,000. After some impressive performances for the youth team he was an unused substitute in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game against West Bromwich Albion, and then joined up with the first team squad in pre season of this season. He was one of the major performers and caused a lot of United fans to begin to talk about the potential of the player. After coming off the bench a couple of times he was handed his full debut by David Moyes against Sunderland. His two goals; glorious strikes; his second especially helped United gain an important victory. Since then there has been much speculation of potential moves away from Old Trafford if they don’t tie him down and also which country he will play for.
Things get complicated as it is not straight forward which country Januzaj will end up choosing. Naturally through birth Adnan is eligible to play for Belgium, but has apparently rejected call-ups to the youth sides on a number of occasions. Marc Van Geersom former manager of the U-18 and U-19 teams said that the attacker had a preference to play for Albania. He qualifies for them through the birth of his parents. One born in Albania the other born in Kosovo. Kosovo are currently in the process of applying to become a FIFA affiliated team, so this is still a possibility. For now though Serbia would claim that due to Kosovo not having a side, it would be them instead that he would be eligible for. His grandparents were born in Turkey giving Januzaj another option to ponder. The chance of him becoming an England player is slim. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales voluntarily agreed to opt out of the residency rule in 1993. Instead they agreed that a player is allowed to switch if they have received five years’ education in the country before the age of 18.
The Red Devils’ player is still young and there is no rush right now for him to pledge his international allegiance. He needs to concentrate on his United career, get his head down, and ignore all country and transfer speculation. If he does that then Manchester United have one hell of a player on their hands and it could make a huge difference to their season.