Adnan Januzaj – Make or Break at Borussia Dortmund

Posted on 15th November 2015


Adnan Januzaj’s loan move from Manchester United to Borussia Dortmund during the summer transfer window was one of the biggest surprises on the transfer market. Manchester United fans in particular felt that Januzaj was ready to contribute to Manchester United’s first team, but United’s manager, the Dutchman Louis van Gaal believed that Januzaj would benefit from gaining valuable first team experience first in the German Bundesliga.

In April 2014 the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport named Januzaj the best youngster in Europe, and Dortmund’s Neven Suboti? stated that he was surprised that Dortmund was able to land him. Furthermore, after their first game together—a friendly against St. Pauli—Suboti? stated to Germany’s Kicker Magazine that he had never seen a player with a better shot.

Januzaj, despite high expectations and praise from teammates, has failed to gain a position in Borussia Dortmund’s starting line-up. Januzaj has so far only managed 219 minutes in the Europa League, 144 minutes in the Bundesliga, and 28 minutes in the German Cup, overall he managed only two assists—one in the Bundesliga against Darmstadt, and one in the Europa League against Azerbaijan’s Qäbälä—which has led to a mediocre average score of 6.71.

On November 9 the German Internet platform reported that Januzaj’s lack of playing time at Dortmund has caused concern at Manchester United’s front office, and that Louis van Gaal may bring the winger back to England during the winter transfer market. Van Gaal has stated several times in the past that he wanted more speed on the wings, and that Januzaj could be a solution to that problem.

Also Januzaj appears to be unhappy with the amount of game time he has received from Dortmund’s manager Thomas Tuchel, likely due to the fact that the winger is also trying to make the Belgium squad for next summer’s European Championship in France.

Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc, however, has since refuted all rumours that Januzaj could leave Dortmund in the winter. Zorc told the Kicker Magazine on Thursday that, “there is no debate on this at the moment”, and according to Zorc, Januzaj has been the victim of the fact that “the other offensive players are doing a fantastic job at the moment.”

The other offensive players would be Pierre-Emerik Aubameyang, Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Shinji Kagawa, and recently Gonzalo Castro. The quintet has been largely responsible for Dortmund’s offensive power in the Bundesliga in which the club has scored 35 goals in 12 matches, resulting in 29 points in the league five points behind league leaders Bayern Munich—Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke recently suggested that with this production rate Borussia would be the league leader in any of the other top divisions in Europe.

Januzaj has, however, also struggled at Dortmund’s training, as reports from Dortmund suggested that he arrived in Dortmund with fitness levels far below those required by the average Bundesliga player. Januzaj had to get used to the intensive training, and the up-tempo pressing game of the Bundesliga, but Zorc stated on Thursday that Januzaj’s fitness level has made progress.

Still it is remarkable that a player of Januzaj’s calibre would arrive at Dortmund without the necessary fitness to compete at the highest level, despite the fact that he had fully participated at Manchester United’s pre-season preparations. Furthermore, this is the second time that Dortmund has had to deal with a player arriving from Manchester without the necessary fitness to compete in the Bundesliga, as Shinji Kagawa only managed 60 minutes in his first Bundesliga game back from United in the summer of 2014, and had to be substituted after showing signs of exhaustion.

It took Kagawa a full season to compete at the Bundesliga level, but unlike Kagawa, Januzaj is only supposed to stay at Dortmund for the remainder of the season before returning to Manchester. Hence, the Belgium winger will have to put in extra hours both on the pitch and in the gym to compete in a league known for its up-tempo, high pressing style.

About the author – Manuel Veth

Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and Editor in Chief @FutbolgradLive and writes about the economics and politics of Soviet and post-Soviet football. You can find his work at

twitter: @homosovieticus



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