London – Barcelona are ready to snatch Adnan Januzaj from Manchester United if he rejects a new contract. The 18-year-old’s stock has risen sharply after his stunning two-goal display on his Premier League debut at Sunderland on Saturday.
But Barca have tracked the teenager’s progress since before he joined United from Anderlecht in 2011. They are ever more confident that Januzaj will move to the Nou Camp when his deal runs out in eight months.
Though the Belgian says he is happy at United, it is said he has felt unappreciated at times. Contract talks stalled after Sir Alex Ferguson decided to retire in May and have resumed only recently.
Agent Dirk de Vriese warned last week: “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.”
United hope Januzaj’s promotion under David Moyes and the offer of a lucrative long-term contract worth substantially more than his current deal will be enough to make him stay.
But they fear Januzaj and De Vriese are being driven by the player’s father. Moyes recently made a veiled reference to “some influences around him”.
Anderlecht’s head of development Jean Kindermans, the man widely credited with discovering the star, warned last night that Januzaj Snr is likely to have the final say on whether his son stays at United and which country he represents.
Born in Belgium to Kosovan and Albanian parents, Januzaj is eligible to play for several nations, and Belgium manager Marc Wilmots made his first move by naming him in the squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Croatia and Wales.
But the overtures were rejected as Januzaj asked Old Trafford officials to reply that he wanted more time to consider his international future.
Januzaj said: “At the moment, international football isn’t something I’ve thought a lot about. 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.”
Wilmots said: “This was the first time I have tried to include him because I wanted to send him a clear message. I respect his stance. Every player has the right to make a choice and I will not make an ultimatum.
“You cannot force a player to choose. It has to come from his heart.” – Daily Mail