Is Adnan Januzaj the future of Manchester United?

Sports Mole takes a closer look at Adnan Januzaj, who made an impressive debut for Manchester United at the weekend.

Trawling through internet forums and Twitter on Sunday evening, you could have been forgiven for thinking that there had been a bereavement at Manchester United.

The mood among the Old Trafford faithful was a sombre one, having seen their club lose out on a target that they had reportedly been chasing ever since he had lit up the recent European Under-21 Championships in Israel.

Some journalists had supporters believing that a deal for Thiago Alcantara was agreed, but the young Spaniard eventually opted for the nurturing bosom of Pep Guardiola.

Now we are supposed to believe that Cesc Fabregas is "open" to the prospect of a switch to the Premier League champions. While there are not many people doubting that a bid has been lodged - after all, David Moyes has admitted that he was keen to strengthen his midfield options - are we meant to comprehend the fact that Fabregas would seriously consider swapping his life in his hometown of Barcelona for Manchester?

Cesc Fabregas© PA Photos

And even if he is tempted by the lure of Albert Square, Piccadilly Station and the Salford Quays, it is going to cost United and the Glazer clan much more than the speculated £26m that they laid on the table yesterday. The talk from Spain is that Barca have no intention of playing ball for anything less than £35m.

So, assuming that the former Arsenal man decides to remain in Catalonia, it really does leave Moyes scraping the barrel where a midfield recruit is concerned. Yes the transfer window is open until early September, but a number of the big-named players have already secured their summer switches.

Now, for as far back as records go, United have always promoted from within. For every Cristiano Ronaldo, there has been a David Beckham. For every Eric Cantona, there has been a Sir Bobby Charlton - you get the picture.

No doubt Moyes is anxious to bring in a superstar signing in an attempt to win over the doubters that remain regarding his appointment - hence the interest in Fabregas. However, with potential targets evaporating at a significant rate, it may also be the time for the Scot to be in keeping with the club's traditions.

His squad for the pre-season tour of Asia and Australia suggested that it was a script that he was prepared to follow, having given Michael Keane, Jesse Lingard and Adnan Januzaj places in the travelling party. United may have lost their opening match 1-0 to a Singha All Star XI, but it was the latter of the young trio that really caught the eye and captured the imagination on Saturday afternoon.

Adnan Januzaj keeps possession against Tottenham Hotspur.© PA Photos

Although predominantly left-footed, young Belgian Januzaj started on the right side of midfield. Unperturbed, the 18-year-old produced the type of performance that saw him named United's Reserve Player of the Season last term. It was also the sort of display that encouraged Sir Alex Ferguson to include him the senior squad for the final day of the campaign against West Bromwich Albion in May.

He seemed to float across the Rajamangala Stadium turf as if he were a member of the Spanish national side. When a simple pass was on, he played it, but when a teammate had made a good run, as Anderson did during the first half, Januzaj showed that he possesses the necessary vision and technique to execute it.

It was a showing that prompted this response from Moyes: "I thought he played well. I thought he was a plus for us. It's always good when you give a young player a chance and he shows up, and I thought he did tonight. The more he plays like that, the more opportunities he's liable to get."

Meanwhile, arguably United's most famous academy graduate of them all, Ryan Giggs, added: "Adnan is talented. He has shown his talent in training because he has trained with us quite a bit in pre-season. Now he has done well in a match situation.

"He looks a really good prospect and will gain a lot of experience by playing in front of such big crowds. He is only young and you don't want to get ahead of yourself. Now it is just about learning from the older players and doing what he does best."

Adnan Januzaj in action for Manchester United during a pre-season friendly.© PA Photos

The Brussels-born midfielder joined United in 2011 from Anderlecht despite reported interest from Barcelona. The Catalans were also believed to be tracking his progress earlier this year, which may have prompted Ferguson, still reeling from losing starlet Paul Pogba to Juventus 12 months earlier, to include him in the senior squad at West Brom.

Ferguson himself recently said this of Januzaj's potential: "Adnan is a beautifully-balanced player. He's only 18 and has to grow into his frame but he he has good balance, good acceleration and is a very good technical player."

His outing in Bangkok was an exciting one, but it will be important that nobody connected with United allows themselves to get too carried away too soon. Is he ready for the Premier League? Only Moyes can decide that. One would suggest that he would need to be slowly integrated, rather than being thrown to the lions.

What's more, as Ferguson has suggested, he must bulk up to cope the demands of the English game, Nonetheless, it's fair to say that United have an exciting young prospect among their ranks, as do the constantly improving Belgium national team.

Januzaj may not be able to fill a void that has been left gaping for a number of years in the United engine room immediately, but given time, he could very well become a key fixture in the side. After all, he does share a birthday with Mr Ronaldo...

Real Madrid's Luka Modric celebrates a goal against Mallorca on March 16, 2013
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