"He is going to be a special talent. He has got goals, he has got ability on the ball, but we will keep his feet on the ground here."
It would have been United’s third league defeat in a row if the youngster hadn’t popped up with two quality finishes mid-way through the second-half but just who is Manchester United's new star and did he show signs of being the real deal at the weekend?
Januzaj is a player who can play all across the midfield but was playing predominantly from the left-hand side on Saturday but his direct runs and willingness to gain possession in the hole behind the strikers meant he often drifted inside, even swapping wings with the lively Nani at stages.
Adnan Januzaj Heat Map v Sunderland
As the youngster’s Action Areas show, he spent as much time playmaking from central areas at he did on the left-wing if not more, further showing his exceptional versatility.
Adnan Januzaj Action Areas v Sunderland
His drifting across the midfield allowed Patrice Evra to hold United’s width down the left, often gaining more space than usual because of Januzaj’s inclusion in the team. The space the Frenchman found allowed him to complete three key passes, including an assist for Januzaj’s first goal.
Adnan Januzaj First Goal v Sunderland
Patrice Evra Heat Map v Sunderland
Januzaj is very confident and capable with the ball at his feet. Considering he is just 18-years-old, he has shown talent beyond his years in the sporadic appearances he has made for the first-team but it was in his first start for United that he really announced himself to the whole of English football. Most United fans already see him as superior to the misfiring England international Ashley Young and you can see why based on his performance against Sunderland.
Adnan Januzaj completed 5 take-ons in the 1st half vs Sunderland, more than Ashley Young has managed in 4 EPL outings this season (3). #MUFC
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 5, 2013
Whenever he picks up possession, he tries to create or open space for others. He won almost a third of United’s 16 total take-ons on Saturday, winning five out of his seven attempted take-ons. Four of these successful dribbles came in advanced areas of the pitch which is a very promising sign for United because it is in those areas that they have failed to create enough chances in recent games.
Adnan Januzaj Take-ons v Sunderland
Januzaj’s pass accuracy of 84 per cent is also promising but not exceptional as most of his passes did go backwards and he did not complete a key pass. We should expect him to improve on this area of his game as he plays in the Premier League on a regular basis. Despite a lack of key passes, his pass map does further show off his ability to drift across the pitch, thus creating space for his team-mates as he drags defenders out of position.
Adnan Januzaj Passes v Sunderland (84% Pass Accuracy)
Moyes has taken a lot of stick in recent weeks but he has to take credit for handing the youngster his first Premier League start on Saturday. Januzaj’s winning goal deserves a special mention too; it was a sublime left-footed volley, sumptuously executed and reminiscent of Gareth Bale’s strike against Stoke City in 2010.
Although it is just one game, we can’t get carried away with ourselves, but it takes some confidence and skill to win a match like Januzaj did at the weekend. United will be desperate to tie up his new contract as soon as possible because if he performs like he did on a regular basis; Adnan Januzaj will be a future Manchester United superstar.