Barcelona are reportedly keeping an eye on the latest Manchester United sensation Adnan Januzaj in the hope that he will choose to leave Old Trafford rather than sign a new contract with the reigning Premier League champions.
The 18-year-old stole the headlines on the weekend when his two goals on his first start for the club saved United from defeat against Sunderland, after Craig Gardner had put the basement side ahead in the first half.
However, the youngster has impressed during his rise through the ranks with United, but manager David Moyes is already concerned about losing the teenager with his contract set to run out in the summer.
United were powerless to stop their last hot prospect Paul Pogba leave the club, despite offering him a lucrative contract in an attempt to hold onto the Frenchman. Instead, he chose to run down his contract and head to Italy, where he joined Serie A champions Juventus.
Talks with Januzaj over a new contract had stalled following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, with the club focusing on appointing a replacement for the retired Scotsman and then the summer transfer business as Moyes attempted to strengthen his side.
Januzaj, who is eligible to play for Belgium, Albania, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo – although they are not recognised by Fifa – and he could also qualify for England through residency grounds in either 2016 or 2018, depending on the differing stipulations that outline their nationality rules.
Barcelona are said to be interested in luring him to the Nou Camp, as recently appointed manager Gerardo Martino looks to add his touch to the already talented squad he has at his disposal. Januzaj would act as cover for current world class wingers Lionel Messi and Neymar, but their style of developing young and promising talent into the best in the world would be an attractive proposition.
However, his agent Dirk de Vriese confirmed last week that there was interest coming from the continent in signing Januzaj in the summer, warning United that if they wanted to tie his future down, they should do it sooner rather than later.
“I’m not going to say which teams are interested in him, but I can tell you that there is interest from several European clubs,” said de Vriese.
Another deciding factor is said to be the player’s father, with Anderlecht’s head of development Jean Kindermans claiming that he will have the final say on where his son’s future lies and which country he plays for.
Kindermans is regarded as the man who uncovered Januzaj when he was at the Belgian club before his 2011 move to United. But the United hot shot has admitted that he will not rush into any decision.
“At the moment, international football isn’t something I’ve thought a lot about,” admitted Januzaj. “I know that first I have to concentrate on what I do for United because that is the most important part of my career now.”
With United struggling for form in the Premier League, Moyes will hope that Januzaj will provide many more moments this season like the one at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. But he will also be wary that his playing time this season could be crucial in securing the winger in the long-term.