Manchester United 3 Leicester 1: Louis van Gaal challenge to Adnan Januzaj - earn your United place

The 19-year-old started his first league game since early November on Saturday

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The Independent Football

If Adnan Januzaj is to become a regular starter for Manchester United, Louis van Gaal needs to see consistent commitment on the pitch and on the training ground.

The 19-year-old, who started his first Premier League game since early November in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat of Leicester City, was one of the few successes of David Moyes’ brief time as manager at Old Trafford. However, under Van Gaal, Januzaj has been shunted to the sidelines.

It may not have been a coincidence that he returned to the starting line-up a few days after Januzaj’s agent, Dirk de Vriese, revealed United had rejected an approach from Paris Saint-Germain.

The young Belgium international performed well against Leicester, particularly in the second half, but his manager needs to see more before Januzaj can look forward to regular football at Old Trafford. “He has a lot of talent but you have to show that talent in matches and also in training sessions,” said Van Gaal. “I don’t make the line-up, the players themselves make the line-up [by their performances]. The competition is high.”

Van Gaal revealed Darren Fletcher’s proposed transfer to West Ham United had collapsed. Although the 31-year-old Scot had been granted a free transfer, West Ham only wanted him on loan, a proposal Fletcher rejected. Van Gaal said he would welcome Fletcher back to the training ground but, given the level of competition in central midfield, it was hard to imagine what he could offer him in terms of first-team football.


“I have to compare him to Michael Carrick and Daley Blind, who are both playing in that position,” Van Gaal said after a match in which Blind created two of United’s goals. “It is like Januzaj. I have to compare him with Juan Mata because in the next press conference you shall ask: ‘Why is Mata not playing?’ I look at the players every day of the week and the players have to show it. I have said that to Radamel Falcao, I have said that to Mata and I have said it to Januzaj.”

The teenager will probably keep his place for Tuesday night’s FA Cup replay with Cambridge United. That, like the fixture with Leicester, the Premier League’s bottom side, is a game Manchester United should win comfortably. Januzaj’s last start had been another home banker, against Crystal Palace.

However much commitment Januzaj displays, the question for Van Gaal must be whether he is good enough to face Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea in the spring.