No sooner had 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj burst onto the big stage with an excellent brace against Sunderland than excited United fans were suddenly panicking about the player’s contract situation; with less than a year to go and the player clearly showing huge promise, many feared a repeat of the farce surrounding Paul Pogba, who left United to join Juventus and has since gone on to become a star performer in the Bianconeri’s midfield.
Relief at Old Trafford was palpable then when Januzaj signed a five-year deal earlier this month. With that pesky business out of the way, thoughts could turn to the player’s international options: of which there are suddenly many.
Januzaj was born in Belgium, but is of Kosovar-Albanian descent. This means he is eligible to play for Belgium, Albania and, due to the disputed status of Kosovo, Serbia. Turkey are also in the mix thanks to his grandparents’ heritage, and he could even qualify for England through five-year residency if he has still not been capped at full international level by 2018.
SkyBet has opened a market on who Januzaj will represent at international level, but who are the favourites?
Belgium (current SkyBet odds: 6/4)
From also-rans to World Cup dark horses in a couple of years, Belgium have one of the most exciting squads around at the moment. However, Januzaj’s father is not happy with comments by Belgium coach Marc Wilmots, and has said his son wants to be a starter for his national team. With Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Kevin Mirallas and Tottenham’s Nacer Chadli in competition for wide places, this could open the door for…
Albania (current SkyBet odds: 6/4)
Albania may have finished second-bottom of their World Cup qualifying group, but they were only a point behind Norway, and six behind second-placed Iceland in a close group. An improving team will be eyeing qualification in future, but Januzaj may become too big a fish for them.
England (current SkyBet odds: 5/2)
It may seem unlikely that Januzaj will wait until he is 23 to play on the international stage, but if relations sour with Belgium and Manchester United are fulfilling his professional ambitions, the Three Lions may be the best choice for international competition.