Big Money Good or Bad For Adnan Januzaj

Manchester United rave of the moment (Manchester United’s new wonder kid) Adnan Januzaj is in for a big pay day after showing glimpses of sparkle that saw the English Premier leaguechampions bring the 16 year old from Belgian powerhouse, Anderlect in 2011.

Over the Weekend Janzuaj deservedly got his first start for the premier league champions against Sunderland after an inspiring performance in the 2-1 home loss to West Bromwich Albion on Match day 6. However, the young Belgian repaid under-pressured boss, David Moyes with a brace against Sunderland at the stadium of Light.

His two goals secured all three points for struggling Manchester United.

Now the 18 year old Belgian has become a tussle between the top European clubs and a host of countries also claiming allegiance in a bid to make him dawn their national colours.

follow the money

In the Wake of his Headline Performance, Manchester United is set to reward the 18 year old with a £60,000 weekly wages.

Does he deserve the big pay rise after just two top class performances?  Will he live up to the tag of “the next big thing in world football” like his United predecessors’ in Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo to mention a few, who came in as top prospects and lived up to their big money pay check?

In the wake of Januzaj’s pay rise we look at  5 youngstars who never lived up to their big money potentials.

5. Jordan Henderson

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 Born in Sunderland on June 17, 1990. Henderson signed a professional contract with hometown club, Sunderland on the 1st of July 2008 at the age of 18, playing his first league game for Sunderland as a half-time substitute in a 5–0 away defeat to Chelsea on November 1, 2008. He then made his first Sunderland start and home debut against Blackburn Rovers in the League Cup. He later went on a short loan spell at Conventry city and returned after an impressive showing. Henderson helped Sunderland to an unbeaten run of games against big clubs such as Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea all of whom reportedly registered an interest in the player. He went on to grab 74 caps scoring 4 goals from the midfield position.

His inspiring display for Sunderland caught the eye of many, most notably Fabio Capello who made Henderson a part of his senior squad to face France on 17 November 2010. And on 13th January 2011, Henderson was listed on the official FIFA website as one of thirteen young players to watch in 2011, he was also ranked alongside English Premier League young guns Manchester United’s David de Gea and Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku.

On June 09 2011, Sunderland confirmed they had agreed an undisclosed fee thought to be worth between £16 and £20 million with Liverpool for Henderson. Henderson made his debut in Liverpool’s first game of the 2011–12 Premier League, a 1–1 draw against his former club Sunderland.

With a commanding display for Liverpool, he was called up to the England Euro 2012 squad to replace the injured Frank Lampard on 31 May 2012. He featured in the Euros for England playing against France and Italy.

Despite a promising career, Henderson has since bagged just 5 appearances for the Three lions and relegated to the bench at Liverpool.


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4.  Jack Rodwell

Jack Rodwell was born on March 11, 1991 and joined Everton’s academy at the age of 7. He made his under-18s debut at 14 and his debut for Everton’s reserve team at the age of 15. Rodwell then broke a record on his senior debut becoming the youngest player to represent Everton in Europe, when he came on as a substitute against Dutch team AZ Alkmaar at the age of 16 years and 284 days in 2007.

Rodwell went on to represent his country at all levels from under-16 to the senior team. Known as a complete two-footed box to box midfielder, Rodwell was renowned for his decent tackles, good shot, passing and huge natural stamina. He spent five years in the first team before securing a move to then Premier League champions Manchester City in 2012 for a fee of £12 million, which could rise to £15million.

Despite all his talents and fantastic profile at youth level, Rodwell has only managed 12 appearances for Manchester city in 2 years and is yet to be called up to the Three Lions squad ever since.

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3. Robinho


Christened as Robson de Souza, only 15 years of age in 1999, Robinho was personally picked by Brazil legend Pelé as his heir apparent and when he led Santos FC to their first Campeonato Brasileiro title, a title they last won when Pelé himself played for the club.

Born in São Vicente, São Paulo State, Robinho signed his first professional contract with Santos FC in 2002 at the age of 18 , where his stock grew and attracted the European super powers.

After just a little over 3 years of professional football in Brazil. Spanish giants Real Madrid signed Robinho in 2005, by agreeing to pay a fee equal to 60 percent of the buyout €24,000,000 clause in his contract. Despite the Big bucks and hype, Robinho managed just 25 goals in 101 appearances for the Los Blancos.

On 1 September 2008, the final day of the Premier League summer transfer window, Robinho completed a €42,500,000 (£32,500,000) move to Manchester City on a four-year deal which the whole world thought will be a renaissance to his dwindling light of the highly rated Brazilian.

However, Robinho never lived up to his big money price tag making just 41 starts and scoring 14 goals in his 4 years at the Etihad Stadium. He returned to his childhood club on a 6 month loan to rejuvenate his career after moving down the pecking order in Man City.

He now stars for Italian power house AC Milan and he’s yet to live up to the title of the “New Péle”

2. Bojan Krikc


Born 28 August 1990 in Linyola, Lleida, Catalonia. Bojan started his career at FC Barcelona’s youth teams from 1999 to 2006. A quick striker with quite notable dribbling skills, Bojan shot to prominence as a 15-year-old at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Luxembourg in May 2006 when he was joint top-scorer and Bronze ball award winner. It was reported that he scored over 500 goals for the youth teams in five and a half years at that time. He then played the 2006–07 season with the FC Barcelona B team until he signed a professional contract with the first team upon turning 17. Bojan played his first match with Barcelona on 24 April 2007, scoring a goal in a friendly match against Egyptian club Al-Ahly.

At 17 years and 19 days, (16 September 2007) Bojan made his official debut for Barcelona against CA Osasuna, replacing Giovani dos Santos in the 78th minute, breaking Lionel Messi’s record of the youngest Barcelona player to feature in a La Liga match.

Three days later, he made his UEFA Champions League debut against Olympique Lyonnais, coming on at the 88th minute for Messi. He was at that time, the youngest Barcelona player ever to feature in a Champions League game, at 17 years and 22 days.

Bojan then made his second Champions League appearance on 2 October, coming on at the 81st minute for Ronaldinho against VfB Stuttgart. On 20 October 2007 (at 17 years and 53 days), Bojan made his first league start for Barcelona away to Villarreal CF and scored in the 25th minute. It was his first goal for the club’s first team and it made him the youngest ever goal scorer for Barcelona in a league match.

Bojan’s record breaking debut season didn’t end there. Bojan became the first person born in the 1990s to score in the Champions League and the second youngest player ever, the first being Ghanaian forward-Peter Ofori-Quaye who was with Olympiacos back then, who scored at the age of 17 years and 195 days when he scored his first ever Champions League goal on 1 April 2008 (at 17 years and 217 days) against Schalke 04, netting the only goal in the first (away) leg of the quarter-finals.  Bojan finished the season with a record of 10 goals, breaking Raúl’s record of most goals scored in a debut season.

However the promising 17 year old super star never broke down when he started to earn big. In the Summer of 2011 A.S. Roma bought Bojan after he complained about lack of first team action, for a fee of €12 million . A sale that included a buyback clause requiring Barcelona to resign Bojan, although with the option of Roma paying an additional €28 million to retain the player.

Bojan made 33 league appearances for Roma, scoring just seven times in total. A disappointing return for a player with so much prospect. In disappointment Roma sent Bojan to AC Milan on a season-long loan in August 2012. He scored just 3 goals in 19 appearances and Milan decided not to extend their loan on the young player and sent him back to AS Roma who regarded him as surplus to requirement.

Barcelona exercised their buyback option, bringing Bojan home. The Long forgotten Spanish Wizkid is now on his way second loan spell at  Ajax.



1.  Andrew Carroll

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Andrew Carroll tops our list of young Money flops, Born January 6, 1989. Carroll started his professional career with Newcastle United in 2006, before spending a brief period on loan with Preston North End, during which time he scored his first league goal.

He has established himself as a regular in the Newcastle first team by 2008 but got relegated from the Premier League to the Championship in 2009, he scored 17 goals in 39 appearances, aiding the Toon Army to finish first in the league as well as earning immediate promotion back to the Premier League in the process. He continued to play for Newcastle in the Premier League, scoring 11 goals in 19 appearances.

With a big profile for banging in fantastic goals at the age of 21, Andy Carroll signed for Liverpool for a fee of £35 million on the last day of the transfer window on 31st January, 2011 to replace Fernando Torres, who moved from Liverpool to Chelsea on the same day for a fee of £50 million.  At that time, the highest amount ever paid by one club to another for a British footballer, and Carroll became the eighth overall most expensive footballer, and the  second-most expensive player currently playing for a British club, behind Torres.

Andy Carroll also records as the most expensive British footballer of all time. He ended up scoring just 6 goals in 44 appearances for Liverpool and couldn’t live up to the huge wage bill . He was sent on loan to West ham United, who made his deal permanent in the summer.


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In conclusion, we are not saying that Adnan Januzaj should not be given a new lucrative  deal at Manchester United, but we believe that at this early stage, developing his game should be his primary focus and not angling for more money. The examples sighted above are only but a few that  failed or either flopped at the weight of the expectation especially considering a stat that states that only 1 of 10,000 prospective, bright youngsters make it through the grade. The spotlight is on him currently and he would be willing to hug the limelight; but examples closer to home like Luke Chadwick and Fredrico  Macheda say it all.



Written by Olufemi Adefeso

Follow @ incrediblefemi

Adeyemi Adesanya
Sports Business Consultant and Football Intermediary; Risk Management & Due Diligence Consultant; Freelance Football writer & Pundit on Radio & TV and Man.Utd Fan

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