It’s arguably the most famous shirt number at Manchester United. It’s been worn by the likes of George Best, Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Eric Cantona and the peerless Cristiano Ronaldo. But, since Antonio Valencia buckled under the weight of it last season, it’s been sadly vacant.
We have always liked Antonio Valencia as a player. He’s honest, hard working, powerful and fast. But those qualities alone have never been quite enough to get you into the halls of fame with that number on your back. To be a perfect number 7 at Manchester United you need to add sublime technique, daring and jaw-dropping unpredictability to that list.
After the performance of Adnan Januzaj at the weekend Manchester United have surely found the new man for the shirt. You can expect several high profile players to come into the club over the next year but they will all struggle to fulfil the criteria for the shirt as well as Januzaj does.
He has a long way to go to become a match winner week in week out like Cristiano Ronaldo or George Best were. He still needs to develop physically and still has a tendency to drift in and out of games. But, if he continues to improve on this trajectory, we could truly be talking about another Manchester United great in two or three years.
Januzaj has the ball skills of a player like Nani but also has the ingenious football brain that the Portuguese arguably lacks. He’s got the two-footedness of Cristiano Ronaldo to the point that you often forget which is his best peg. He has the confidence and swagger of a Cantona and the precision of Beckham. This guy is a truly exciting player to behold. Not since Cristinao Ronaldo was coming into his prime has there been a player who has generated this much excitement at the the club – a player who improves week on week in front of your very eyes – a player who’s limits are impossible to predict.
After a couple of frustrating years at the club I remember watching Cristiano Ronaldo play against Fulham on the opening day of his third season at Manchester United. Over that summer he had physically transformed himself from boy to man. And he tore Fulham apart – ultimately toying with them like a cat with a half-dead mouse.
Januzaj may not have Ronaldo’s explosive pace. But nor has he had the two year period of frustrating inconsistency. This guy has hit the ground running and has looked head and shoulders above his team mates for the last few games.
Many players have some of the qualities required to be Manchester United’s number 7. A few tick most of the boxes. But rarely do you see a lad who fits the bill completely. In Januzaj, Manchester United have found that man and he will become an absolute legend, if he stays at the club. He makes the game look easy like a true United number 7.
Let’s enjoy a clip while we wait for his next appearance. CLICK FOR JANUZAJ
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