Left in 2017, now worth £5m: MUFC flop was even more frustrating than Ravel Morrison

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Ravel Morrison stands out as the Manchester United player who failed to live up to the hype; the talented but problematic playmaker is frequently mentioned as the wonderkid who was overlooked.

Alongside Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, the dynamic prospect was the star of the FA Youth Cup-winning team in 2011, and it was inevitable that he would go on to thrive in the first team at Old Trafford.

That was undoubtedly the opinion of many members of the team at the time, as former Red Devils player Quinton Fortune recently noted to The Athletic in a statement:

Not a single question. It was simple to do. A once-in-a-lifetime talent, indeed. It was similar to watching Xavi, Iniesta, and Neymar all at once. He held us spellbound.

The young Morrison appeared “destined to be the best,” according to former scout Phil Brogan. According to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp, even the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson is said to have called him “the most talented player he’s ever worked with.”

The Wythenshawe native left for West Ham United in January 2012 after appearing just three times for United’s first team as it turned out, due to the midfield’s off-field antics, which saw him “skip training” on occasion, in his own words.

Few club followers have ever had the opportunity to see the once-promising talent in person, which has led to the Jamaican international almost becoming something of a legendary, fabled figure.

Because Morrison’s opportunity under Ferguson came and went so quickly, the Old Trafford supporters are likely to have had little affection for the DC United player now on the team.

Adnan Januzaj’s first-team performances had led many to dare to dream that he could be the “future” of the club, as hailed by former manager David Moyes. In contrast, Red Devils supporters were likely to have been much more enamoured with another former academy star who failed to live up to their early potential.

How did Adnan Januzaj fare?

Morrison’s effect at the senior level was all too fleeting, but Januzaj’s time in the club was far longer and more stable, having made his debut during Moyes’ lone season in command, the 2013–14 campaign.

The winger’s performance during that breakthrough season may have contributed to his eventual slide being more frustrating than Morrison’s, as the Brussels-born star had already demonstrated that he could succeed while wearing a United jersey in the senior squad, unlike his fellow youth ace.

Januzaj, who had been an unused substitute in Ferguson’s final game in charge against West Bromwich Albion the year prior, was given his debut in the Community Shield victory over Wigan Athletic after being thrown into the team by Moyes as a young teenager as the Scotsman looked for a solution to his Old Trafford woes.

After scoring a brace in a 2-1 comeback victory over Sunderland in the Premier League in October 2013, the wide winger finally made his presence known on his debut start for the team.

The 18-year-old’s second goal of the game, which was hit on the volley, was just magnificent, and the young star immediately won over the United fans.

In 27 league games, the quick-footed menace would finish that breakout season with a respectable total of four goals and four assists, earning him the accolades of “up there with some of the best I have seen” from then-teammate Darren Fletcher.

After assuming Ryan Giggs’ illustrious number 11 shirt for the ensuing season, Januzaj ultimately failed to repeat his early exploits, perhaps suffering from Moyes’ departure.

The graceful left-footer was confined to just seven league starts during that 2014–15 season under Louis van Gaal, and he failed to score once when playing for the first team. He later reflected on how “difficult” life was under the Dutchman.

Moyes compared Januzaj to a young Wayne Rooney because of his talent, but Van Gaal did not share that opinion, and in 2015 Januzaj was sent on loan to Borussia Dortmund despite making only 12 appearances for the Bundesliga team.

The player was allowed to join Real Sociedad on a permanent basis in 2017, with Jose Mourinho authorising the player’s £9 million sale, after reuniting with Moyes the year after his temporary move to Sunderland, where he contributed just three assists and no goals in the top flight.

What has become of Adnan Januzaj?

The move to Spain finally provided Januzaj’s career with the much-needed stability, as the 15-cap superstar went on to amass 168 appearances for the La Liga team across all competitions, making 23 goals and 21 assists along the way.

After scoring for Belgium in a World Cup match against the Three Lions in 2018, the explosive star was once again on England’s radar. That exquisite finish served as another fleeting reminder of what the forward might have accomplished at the Theatre of Dreams.

In addition, it was notable that the former Anderlecht youth product rejoined the Red Devils after facing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team in the Europa League in 2021, with club great Paul Scholes praising him as “brilliant” during the first-leg match.

That match even made it clear that United could have used a buy-back clause that was a part of the agreement that saw Januzaj move to Spain; however, Solskjaer and company decided against planning a romantic comeback, and the player went on to leave La Real in the summer of 2016.

The 28-year-old was signed by Sevilla on a free transfer in August of last year after leaving the Basque team at the conclusion of his five-year stay in San Sebastian. However, in February, he was loaned out to Istanbul Basaksehir of Turkey.

The seasoned attacker, who scored three goals in nine appearances for the Super Lig team this season, is now lining up outside of Europe’s top five leagues at a time when he could have been approaching his peak years as a key player for the Red Devils.

According to Football Transfers, Januzaj’s value has dropped to as little as £5 million as a result of his fall from favour. He was never able to live up to the original, deserved hype that surrounding him.

Januzaj had showed flashes that he may be the future star of the United squad, whilst Morrison had never really made an impact on the first-team setup, leading to the intense disappointment for all parties that such a scenario did not play out.

In reality, the Belgian has continued to have a respectable career at the highest level, but one can’t help but wonder what the man who shone at the Stadium of Light nearly nine years ago may have achieved.

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