Januzaj confesses love for Reds before European tie
Real Sociedad winger Adnan Januzaj is relishing a reunion with former club Manchester United.
The Belgium international, who signed for the Basque outfit in 2017, after playing 63 times for the Reds, has spoken about how it will be strange going up against United in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League tie in Turin.
Adnan confesses he still loves and follows the club which gave him his professional debut, however he is fully focused on helping his current employers make their mark in a competition which has been dominated by Spanish clubs in recent years.
“I love United a lot, they're my favourite club, and even to this day I watch every single game of theirs because I love the club,” Januzaj told UEFA.com.
“Obviously, when I saw that I would have to play against United, it was a bit of a weird feeling. But at the end of the day I want to play them and try to beat them, to show them also what they have missed and stuff like that.
“I’m sure also that [for] the other young boys that play for Real Sociedad, it’s a dream to play at Old Trafford.
“It will probably be one of the biggest games in their career, so I think it will be amazing for everybody.”
Adnan first moved to Manchester in March 2011, after he’d impressed scouts in Brussels, where he was playing in Anderlecht’s youth sides.
After two years featuring for our Academy teams, during which he won the Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award, he was promoted to the senior set-up under Sir Alex Ferguson and then David Moyes, scoring twice on his full Premier League debut at Sunderland in the autumn of 2013.
Remembering his inexorable journey from teenage prospect to first-team star, Januzaj thanked the players and staff at United for their help, including Paul Pogba, who he unfortunately won’t be up against due to the Frenchman’s recent injury.
“When I first went to England, I was like "why am I here?". The language was different, the people were different. It was really difficult,” the 26-year-old continued.
“But then, the team-mates I had at United, the people that were working at United, were amazing people, people that really, really helped me and that were pushing me.
“I had really great coaches from a young age who also pushed me. That’s the most important thing for a young player.
“I also had players that I grew up with, like Paul Pogba. We were in the classroom together for a few years, so it gave me a bit more confidence, I had more fun. It was like one year to help me integrate into the English mentality. I really loved that.
“For me, my best memories were when I was in England.”
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Januzaj has played 21 times for La Real this season, scoring two goals as the San Sebastian side made an early assault on the La Liga table.
After an indifferent run of form over the winter period, they now sit fifth and Januzaj is pinning his hopes on overcoming a Reds side he sees as being among the favourites for the tournament, after dropping out of the Champions League in December.
“If we beat United, then I think we have a bigger chance, the biggest chance to win the Europa League.
“For me, United right now – the United of today – is the toughest opponent in the Europa League that you could get.
“We know we can make everything happen in this Europa League campaign and we have a lot of things to show people.”