Belgium gives Januzaj no guarantees for World Cup selection

Apr 24, 10:43 AM

Adnan Januzaj's decision to play international football for Belgium came from the heart, but a trip to Brazil in the summer is not guaranteed.

The Manchester United winger will play for Belgium, choosing them over Kosovo, Albania, England and a host of other countries interested in his services.  

"Belgium is the most logical choice – he was born in Brussels, studied here and has his friends," said his agent, Dirk De Vriese, in interview with a Beligian website via the Guardian. 

"His relationship with Kosovo and Albania made sure it was a difficult decision but his family supported whatever choice he made. But Adnan has not talked to coach Wilmots and has received no guarantee that he will be selected for the World Cup. He must first become a regular at United and then we will see what happens."

De Vriese also commented on Januzaj's emotional state after a hectic week at the club and country level. 

"It has been an emotional week for him with the departure of coach David Moyes. Adnan is in his first full season and has been the only bright spot for United this year."

The teenager started 12 games for United this season, and made 11 appearances off the bench, scoring four goals. 

Apr 30, 9:51 AM

Wilmots hits back at Mirallas for Januzaj comments

Apr 30, 9:51 AM

Kevin Mirallas should keep his comments regarding Adnan Januzaj to himself, according to Belgium national team coach Marc Wilmots.

Mirallas made headlines after Januzaj declared he would play his international football for Belgium, stating the Manchester United youngster did "not know the group" well enough to be included in the squad for Brazil, and that the 2016 European Championships were a more realistic target. 

Wilmots hit back at the Everton forward in an interview with Voetbal International, via the Daily Mail

He (Mirallas) also said that if a striker is needed that Jelle Vossen (of Genk) could be likely. That's not his job. For this, he should be silent.

The rules are: you have to talk about yourself, but not the others. On the selection I decide, Kevin may have his opinion, but he should not talk about others, or how new players like Januzaj can affect the group atmosphere?

Stop talking nonsense. We have never had a problem when there is a new player. For Januzaj that will not be a problem. He has an exemplary attitude.

Mirallas played a key role for a Belgian side that qualified easily for the 2014 World Cup, but he may not be feeling so great about himself after his coach's comments. 

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Laurent Dubrule

Apr 27, 2:15 PM

Kevin Mirallas doesn't think Adnan Januzaj should be part of Belgium's World Cup squad

Apr 27, 2:15 PM

Wednesday saw Belgian national team manager Marc Wilmots announce Adnan Januzaj's commitment to his side.

Due to his diverse background, the Manchester United phenom had a whole host of national sides to choose from including Kosovo, Albania, England, Serbia, Croatia, and Turkey. But even though Januzaj has settled on Belgium, that doesn't mean his new teammates want him at the World Cup.

Speaking to reporters, attacking midfielder Kevin Mirallas insisted that it would be unfair if Wilmots selected the 19-year-old sensation for Belgium's World Cup squad.

Per Bein Sports:

There was a lot of pressure on him to make his mind up, and it is good for Belgium that he has chosen us, because he is a good player. But I don't think he should go to Brazil. It would not be fair to leave out another good player for someone who does not know the others and has not played a lot for this club in recent months.

Adnan does not know the group, and the fact is, he has not had much game time at Manchester United lately. It's not as if we are short of good players in that area of the team. In fact, there are a lot of good players in his position in the Belgium squad, so it is going to be difficult for him.

He has yet to prove at United that he can be their number one asset in his particular position. I think for him, the European Championships in 2016 would be a more realistic target.

Mirallas, who won't feature again for Everton this season because of a groin tear but is expected to be fit for the World Cup, is onto something when he mentions the lack of playing time. 

Although the 2013-14 Premier League season has been a breakout campaign for Januzaj, he's been used sparingly at Manchester United since February, often spending the full 90 minutes on the bench or coming on as a late sub. And obviously, playing time at the club level is of importance when coaches assemble their World Cup squads.

Then again, Januzaj occupies a similar part of the field as Mirallas does. Perhaps the Everton man is slightly worried.

Apr 23, 12:58 PM

Adnan Januzaj chooses to represent Belgium

Apr 23, 12:58 PM

Talented Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj made his long awaited choice. 

Where he will play his international football was the question many were asking since he burst onto the scene this year.

We have an answer. 

England, Croatia, Belgium, Turkey and Kosovo were all in the mix for the 19-year-old, who was born in Brussels to Kosovan-Albanian parents.

Belgium's stable of young talents gets only more impressive with the addition. 

Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne are just a few of the under-23 stars coach Marc Wilmots has at his disposal. 

The future is very bright for the Red Devils. 

Feb 21, 8:40 AM

Januzaj's father says United youngster will not play for Kosovo...yet

Feb 21, 8:40 AM

Adnan Januzaj's father says his son will not play for Kosovo in the country's first-ever friendly match against Haiti in March, reports the Daily Mail.

The elder Januzaj was quoted by the English daily as saying Kosovo's lack of FIFA status is a major reason why the young midfielder will not be representing the country just yet.

"I was born there and I would like my son to play for the national team of my country but the matter is delicate because the Kosovo FA is not yet a member of FIFA," Abedin Januzaj told Kosovan TV station Kohavision.

"Maybe one day Adnan will play for Kosovo but for now, this will not happen. We have a lot of time to think about everything."

The 19-year-old has become hot property in light of a breakout season with Manchester United, and will likely take some time before deciding which country he represents.

England, Croatia, Belgium and Turkey are all options, in addition to the aforementioned Kosovan team.

Feb 15, 2:23 PM

Adnan Januzaj invited to play in Kosovo's first-ever international match

Feb 15, 2:23 PM

It's gotten to the point where every country on this planet must think Adnan Januzaj could play for them.

Born in Brussels to Kosovan-Albanian parents, Januzaj has the option of representing Belgium, Kosovo, or Albania at the international level, and he's also eligible to play for Serbia, Croatia, and Turkey. Oh, and he could eventually qualify for England through citizenship.

Take your pick.

As a non-member association of FIFA and having only declared itself an independent state six years ago, Kosovo is probably near the bottom of Januzaj's list. But that hasn't stopped the country's football federation from inviting the 18-year-old to play in its first-ever international match against Haiti on March 5.

"We are in discussions with Adnan's family and to have a player of his amazing talent play in our first match would be hugely symbolic," secretary general of the Football Federation of Kosovo Eroll Salihu told the Daily Star. "We feel he owes it to his people to take some part in the match, even if it is for just 15 minutes. I stress this is a symbolic gesture. 

"By playing in this match we are not thinking he is making any commitment to us. It is a friendly and would not have an effect on him being able to play for another country in the future. It is not our purpose to do that, but we hope he can be with us on a very special and memorable occasion."

A player can only become cap-tied to a national team by representing them in a competitive match. A friendly against Haiti doesn't fall under those guidelines, so as Salihu states, Januzaj can play without having to worry about committing his international future.

Salihu expects a decision on whether or not Januzaj will play by next week.

Feb 13, 6:01 PM

Roy Hodgson: England are weighing up Januzaj case

Feb 13, 6:01 PM

LONDON, Feb 13, 2014 - England are still assessing the possibility of calling up Manchester United's Belgium-born winger Adnan Januzaj, manager Roy Hodgson has revealed.

Hodgson first expressed an interest in Januzaj last October after he scored two goals in a 2-1 win at Sunderland and the 19-year-old has continued to impress despite United's on-pitch struggles.

Januzaj is of Kosovan descent and also qualifies to play for countries including Belgium, Albania and Turkey, but he is uncapped at youth level and has yet to pledge his allegiance to any particular nation.

He could one day qualify to play for England on residency grounds and an FA spokesman has confirmed that England are liasing with world governing body FIFA over the issue of Januzaj's eligibility.

"All I can say on the subject is that I think it's a matter for the FA board," Hodgson told journalists during a briefing at Wembley Stadium.

"I think there's no question of that, because it does raise a lot of issues within football.

"It's quite simple: my answer at the moment is that, until such time as the FA board have got it very, very clear in their mind what their policy's going to be -- is it going to be quite simply following FIFA dictates, is it going to be slightly different in some way? -- all I can do is wait and see.

"But the one thing you've got to understand with Januzaj, whichever way England decide to go, with the way the rules are at the moment, there's no way he can play for England for the next few years."

Speaking three weeks before England's next friendly, at home to Denmark, Hodgson also played down concerns that his players will be too fatigued at the end of the season to make an impact at the World Cup in Brazil.

Exhausted 

The Premier League's lack of a mid-season break has long been considered a factor in England's recurrent failures at major international tournaments, but Hodgson says that English players are not the only ones affected.

"They will be exhausted, they will be tired, and strangely enough, in the past we've lamented our season and the intensity of our league and how that puts us at a slight disadvantage," he said.

"Going through the players (in the Premier League) the other day, the fact that there are 23 Frenchmen playing regularly in the league and 15 Belgians and 14 Spaniards et cetera, we're not going to be quite so much alone as we maybe once were."

Citing the example of Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who will play against England for Uruguay at the World Cup, Hodgson added: "Luis Suarez, he's not going to be fresher at the end of a league season than Wayne Rooney."

Hodgson also paid tribute to goalkeeper Joe Hart, who has regained his first-team place at Manchester City after being rested towards the end of 2013 following a series of high-profile mistakes.

"It was good, his response. It must have been very hard for him to lose his place in the team and (he received) a lot of criticism at the time," Hodgson said.

"I think he did very well when he got his chance again to grab it with both hands and turn in some good performances, so I'm very pleased for him.

"I never doubted his ability to do it, but you've still got to do it, and he did."