Man Utd starlet Januzaj opts for Belgium before World Cup
The teenager who could have qualified for England will represent the land of his birth
MANCHESTER UNITED teenager Adnan Januzaj has brought the curtain down on the fevered speculation over his international future by pledging his allegiance to Belgium ahead of this summer's World Cup.
Coach Marc Wilmots announced on Twitter that Januzaj had chosen to represent Belgium, whose national team share a nickname, the Red Devils, with his club side.
The talented midfielder, whose emergence for Manchester United this season has been one of the few positives to emerge from David Moyes's reign at Old Trafford, was eligible to play for several countries and had sparked a scamble among football associations across Europe.
The 19-year-old was born in Brussels to Kosovan-Albanian parents and joined United in 2011. He could have played for Kosovo, Albania, Turkey or Serbia rather than Belgium. The English FA were also interested in his status and he could have qualified for England through residency by remaining in the Premier League until 2016, although the issue sparked debate over nationality rules and agreements between the home nations.
That issue has been put to bed and Januzaj could now end up playing for Belgium at the World Cup in Brazil, says the BBC. Belgium already boast an array of stars including Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku and have been tipped as one of the tournament's dark horses. Wilmots will reveal if he has found room for Januzaj when he announces his provisional squad next month.
However, "the Manchester United teenager has been given no guarantees that he will be selected", reports The Guardian. "A number of injuries to contenders for the Belgium squad in recent weeks, including Kevin Mirallas of Everton and Aston Villa's Christian Benteke, could increase his chances of selection for the World Cup, although Wilmots already has a wealth of alternative options for their first World Cup campaign since 2002," it adds.
Although he has "snubbed" England, not everyone is disappointed. "The news will please some United officials, who had been concerned at the prospect of Januzaj picking England and the subsequent debate such a move would have sparked," reports the Daily Telegraph.