Real Sociedad’s Adnan Januzaj is raring to go for a clash with ‘the club I love’ on Thursday, but has admitted to regretting he didn’t leave Manchester United sooner.
The winger shot to wonderkid status after breaking into David Moyes’ side during the 2013-14 season aged 18, but Louis van Gaal’s appointment a year later saw the Belgian’s momentum stall, before he finally jetted to Spain in 2017.
Januzaj has yet to hit the heights his early form promised but has become a more regular feature at Sociedad, and will be keen to make his mark in the last-32 Europa League clash with United.
Adnan Januzaj faces old club Manchester United on Thursday in the Europa League last-32
The Belgian burst onto the scene during the 2013-14 season, firing a double on his full debut
Things went downhill after Louis van Gaal’s appointment, getting only seven starts next term
‘I don’t have to prove to anyone, I know my qualities,’ Januzaj told ESPN.
‘I’m really happy to go back there, the club I love. Once I’m on the pitch, there’s going to be no friends because obviously I’m playing for another club now and also I want to win the game.
‘I’m really happy to go back there to see the people.’
No United fan will forget the day Januzaj burst onto the scene. The Belgian fired a sensational double on his full debut, pulling Moyes’ men to victory from 1-0 down against Sunderland.
Januzaj’s breakthrough came under David Moyes, who rewarded him all season with minutes
He ended the season with four goals, four assists, 27 appearances, and a place among the Premier League’s most exciting young talents. That wasn’t enough for Van Gaal, who only granted Januzaj seven starts the following season.
Unsuccessful loan spells at Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland followed before United lost faith. The now 26-year-old can look back on lessons learned at Old Trafford.
‘I had Fergie and David Moyes, coaches that were believing in me, but then some others came in and they wanted a bit more experience in the team,’ Januzaj continued.
The winger was loaned-out to Sunderland before being sold to Real Sociedad in summer 2017
Januzaj is a more regular started for the LaLiga side but is still yet to fulfil his massive potential
‘I was a young boy and when you’re a young boy you have to shut up and do what people tell you to do.
‘I didn’t have the right coach to push me. For example when Van Gaal came I was playing one game out of six so it was difficult and I was like ‘what am I doing here?
‘If at that time I could have chosen to leave the club the year before he came then I would have. I would have gone somewhere else and enjoyed my football.
‘At that point I just wanted to leave the club. I didn’t want to go on loan, I wanted to get sold so it was a really difficult situation. I know I won’t make that mistake again.’