The first-year statistics of Adnan Januzaj and Cristiano Ronaldo at Man United are almost identical… so, can the youngster make the most of his potential?
- Ronaldo scored the same number of goals as Januzaj has in his first season
- Other statistics are almost identical between the two players
- Ronaldo went on to be a United great, moving to Real Madrid in 2009
- Januzaj has hardly featured for United in recent months
‘I watch him a lot and try to do the same things that he does,’ Adnan Januzaj told Inside United of his infatuation with former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.
And judging by their stats from their debut seasons at Old Trafford, the youngster’s statement may just be more factual than first thought.
For the duo scored an identical number of goals in their first full campaign at the club, as well as sharing almost identical records in other fields.
Identical: The similarities are there, but will Januzaj (left) live up to his potential like Ronaldo (right) did?
World class: Cristiano Ronaldo grew to be a United and eventually a world great
The statistics provided by Opta are from Ronaldo’s 2003/04 season, and Januzaj’s breakthrough campaign under David Moyes.
Like Ronaldo, Januzaj has arrived as a youngster from foreign shores, eager to kick on and hold down a first team spot. But he has some act to follow.
Upon signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon in 2003 for over £12million, Sir Alex Ferguson knew straight away a legend was born at Old Trafford.
In his autobiography, Ferguson described first seeing Ronaldo as ‘the biggest surge of excitement and anticipation I experienced in football management’.
Goes down easy: Januzaj has been criticised for play acting on several occasions this season
Silverware: Ronaldo celebrates scoring the opener against Millwall in the 2004 FA Cup final
Stepovers and tricks followed on a Premier League bow against Bolton, with fans already in awe of their new Portuguese son.
It was Ferguson who brought Januzaj to Manchester in 2011 from Anderlecht, but he never featured under the empowering Scot, only first impressing under countryman Moyes.
His full debut at United – away at Sunderland in November – produced two goals and a man of the match award. A fine start, but their would be few supporters who would think the now fully-pledged Belgian can match the almighty career of Ronaldo.
The 18-year-old has hardly featured in recent months, and perhaps similarly to Ronaldo, been criticised for falling to the ground too easily.
Like for like: Ronaldo’s first season is almost identical to Januzaj’s first campaign at Old Trafford
Fan favourite: The Old Trafford crowd recognised Ronaldo’s quality and potential straight away
Much to prove: Januzaj still has some fans to win over, and the new manager, too
The difference is, however, that Januzaj has picked up a staggering six yellow cards this season, all for simulation.
Ronaldo has described himself in the past of being ‘sent by god’ to play football, but is somewhat ordinary statistics from his first season show that pressure should not be put on Januzaj so early in his career.
If Louis van Gaal is to come in, a manager famed for overseeing progression of youth, the teenager could go on to forge a successful career in England.
But after his first year, Ronaldo then went on to score 80 times in his next 167 league appearances for United, as well as a staggering 177 in 165 La Liga games for Real Madrid. That is the challenge Januzaj faces.
On top of the world: Ronaldo won the Balon d’Or this year after Lionel Messi’s dominance
Mega man: Ronaldo left after six years of service, and Januzaj will no doubt be hot property as well