Adnan Januzaj: Move from Man United not been easy, but I'm fitter, better and can learn from Eden Hazard
Adnan Januzaj admits his season at Sunderland has been a challenge, but believes he is improving all the time and will benefit from his experiences.
David Moyes turned to Januzaj to add creativity to his squad this season having brought the youngster through during his time at Old Trafford with great initial success.
Januzaj’s career drifted since then and he has been an inconsistent, though occasionally incisive, presence for the Black Cats.
The Belgian knows onlookers expect more, his early breakthrough leading many expect him to a be an established and effective first teamer at the top of the game by now.
He said: “It has been very difficult because it is not easy to go from Man United to Sunderland. I had to just do it, I will learn from it because I am 22.
“People think I am 26 or 27, I am only 22. I know people want more from me.
“The other side of it is that they have to look at other parts of my game.
“I have learned a lot here and it will make me stronger.
“I don’t know where I will be. I feel much fitter and I am happy and we will see what happens.”
Sunderland will be hoping that Januzaj’s regular first team action since the turn of the year, when Moyes has regularly played him in a central berth behind Jermain Defoe, will pay off during what is a hectic and crucial April schedule.
The Black Cats have struggled in front of goal in recent games, scoring in just one of their last seven games across all competitions.
The game Sunderland did find the net was the 4-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace, in which Januzaj was a central figure.
Moyes’ brightest attacker in the drab draw with Burnley, Januzaj is a player who will have to fire if there is to be any chance at all of another great escape.
As well as his more prominent role the Belgian has also started stepping up on set-piece duties, an area which has frustrated David Moyes with Sunderland struggling to make headway.
Januzaj said: “Six games is a lot in a short space of time. We have to try to win as many games as we can, we can’t make excuses, we have to deliver.
““I have always been working on my set pieces. In training sometimes when I have the chance to do it I take it.
“It is always a plus to score a goal or get an assist.
”You learn more when it gets difficult. First season I played a lot of football and it is also about confidence - when you have that from the manager you get better.
“We were used to winning games at Manchester United. You have to win. That is the result you have to get.
“You come to Sunderland and they always play for the battle to stay in the league.
“It is different. Mentally you have to be strong because you are losing games and drawing. It is not easy, that is hard but you learn a lot.”
When Januzaj broke through at Manchester United, compatriot Eden Hazard was starting to establish himself as one of the brightest talents in the Premier League.
He has gone from strength to strength since then, flourishing this season in a free role at the heart of Antonio Conte’s 5-3-2.
Januzaj has played some of his best football in a similar system and says he can learn from his friend and international team-mate.
He said: “I can learn from him. He has more experience than me. When you are playing against Chelsea there are more players who can make a difference so it’s harder to track all of them. I watch a lot of games in the PL when I have free time and that’s where I learn.
“He is a good friend to me. He is a top player. Whenever he has the ball he is dangerous.
“He is one of the best players in the PL, if not the best, he has so much talent now and I know him well.”