Real Sociedad's Januzaj says he regrets staying at Manchester United as long as he did

Manchester United will come up against a former player in the Europa League this week.

Adnan Januzaj burst onto the scene at Old Trafford during the 2013/14 season under David Moyes.

But it didn’t work out for him at United and he now plays for Thursday evening’s opponents Real Sociedad.

In an interview with ESPN, Januzai – now 26 – said he doesn’t have any regrets about leaving, and actually seems to wish he’d left sooner.

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“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 said about Louis van Gaal.

“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?’

“The first season under Moyes I was getting game time to show myself. If at that time I could have chosen to leave the club the year before (van Gaal) came then I would have.

“If I knew that these coaches were not going to believe in me I would not have signed, I would have gone somewhere else and enjoyed my football. I won’t make that mistake again so I can just enjoy myself and my football.”

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Why did Adnan Januzaj leave Manchester United?

It was actually Jose Mourinho who sold Januzaj to Sociedad in July 2017, for a fee reported to be £9.8 million by the Telegraph.

But as Januzaj says, the rot set in on his United career during van Gaal’s reign.

The Dutchman has a reputation for developing young talent but he actually set back Januzaj’s progress.

He only played 28 times in all competitions across the two years van Gaal was in charge.

Then Mourinho loaned him to Sunderland for his first season in charge, where he scored just once.

Mourinho likes taller, more physical, quicker players and he was completely the wrong manager to develop a slight but talented wideman in need of direction.

Januzaj was a rare bright spark during the doomed Moyes reign but United’s next two managers just didn’t fancy him at all.

The move to La Liga has allowed him to rebuild his career and on Thursday he’ll hope to show United – who still need a right winger – what they’re missing.

Do Manchester United have a buyback clause for Januzaj?

The Manchester Evening News reported in November 2019 that United do have a buyback clause for Januzaj.

TeamTalk claim United could get the Belgian back for £30.6 million but that’s never truly been on the cards.

Januzaj is arguably a more natural right winger than any of the players on United’s books right now, however.

And aged just 26, he should still have his prime years to come. So the idea of United exercising that reported option at some stage shouldn’t be completely ruled out.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.