lads were talking about him."
Over the course of the 2012/13 campaign proper, Adnan laid bare his assets across 24 injury-free outings for Joyce's side and a further four starts in the U18s. Superior football intelligence elevated him above opponents, while his arsenal of trickery, balletic balance and deft use of the ball took him past them.
Operating largely as a striker, Januzaj split his only pair of U21s goals across successive outings against Southampton and Oldham in February this year. A week later, after again catching the eye alongside Nick Powell in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal's youngsters, Adnan's potential was underlined when Ferguson labelled both Januzaj and Powell: "definite Manchester United first-team players."
Joyce's all-conquering side provided an ideal preparatory platform for those readying themselves for the demands for regular silverware at first-team level. Adnan starred as the Reds won the inaugural Barclays U21 Premier League and the Manchester Senior Cup, before picking up the Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year award. Further reward followed four days later with a shock call-up to Sir Alex's final squad. Though the 18-year-old remained on the bench throughout the 5-5 draw with West Brom, his presence in the background of Ferguson's farewell pictures signified a discreet nod to the future amid a celebration of history.
Charged with leading the post-Ferguson United, David Moyes took office on 1 July and, within a fortnight, had named the Brussels-born talent in his first team selection against Thailand's Singha All-Stars. Appearances in each leg of the Reds' tour of Asia and Australia spoke volumes for Moyes' belief in the player, whose competitive debut came in the Community Shield victory over Wigan Athletic.
A substitute in home meetings with Crystal Palace, Liverpool and West Brom, Januzaj was creating a buzz that grew incrementally each time he picked up possession. Blessed with bravery, purpose and skill, his talent naturally struck a chord with an Old Trafford audience entertained by some of the very best. It was on enemy turf, though, that Januzaj came to the fore with a match-winning full debut at Sunderland, a display embossed by two classy finishes which, while stunning in their execution, were no surprise to his manager.