Adnan Januzaj burst onto the scene at Manchester United under David Moyes as the shining light of what was a terrible 2013-14 campaign.
Just three months into that season, the youngster signed a new five-year contract at the club and went on to play 35 games, scoring four goals and lighting up Old Trafford with his skill and wizardry on the wing.
That said, the Belgian, who turns 22 today, failed to establish himself in Louis van Gaal’s squad and was loaned out to Borussia Dortmund, only to be recalled half-way through last term after making just three starts in Germany.
While new boss Jose Mourinho insists Januzaj has a future at Man Utd, he recognises that regular first-team action is what he needs in order to continue his development, so he decided to loan him out to someone who he knows can bring the best out of him.
Moyes’ Sunderland are struggling in a major relegation fight, but a stunning 4-0 win away to Crystal Palace on Saturday sent shockwaves through the Premier League and narrowed the gap between 15th and 20th place to a mere two points.
JANUZAJ STARS IN SUNDERLAND WIN
Januzaj was given his 16th appearance (12th start) of the league campaign yesterday and he lined up in a free role behind the talismanic Jermain Defoe as the Black Cats deployed a fairly unorthodox 3-5-1-1 formation.
The attacking midfielder produced a classy, impressive performance at Selhurst Park and showed a number of attributes which suggest that he does have what it takes to thrive in the English top-flight.
Everyone knows that Januzaj is blessed with vision, creativity, technical ability and a wonderful left foot, which, as you can see in an individual highlights video further down the page, he used to provide two assists for Defoe and to come very close to scoring himself.
However, the talented playmaker also displayed a good work-rate, awareness, an eagerness to get on the ball and surprisingly some strength to hold off Palace players as he dribbled.
It was a very good outing for Januzaj, who was replaced by Steven Pienaar in the 78th minute after picking up an injury.
Fans who saw the match were full of praise for the Red Devils loanee on Twitter and, judging by the tweets below, United supporters should be pretty pleased with their starlet’s progress:
All relative to Palace's ineptitude but Januzaj today looked like player Moyes hoped he would become a few years ago. Really played well
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) February 4, 2017
Fantastic team performance, limited Palace to very little going forward, some big performances from Januzaj and N'Dong today. #safc
— Hendo1980 (@Hendo1980) February 4, 2017
Adnan Januzaj was brilliant played some superb balls in behind the Crystal Palace defence he was up for the game today great display.
— Josh Bunting (@Distillerymad) February 5, 2017
I want Januzaj to do well in Sunderland and compete for a place in Jose's United. He needs to repeat yesterday's performance in every game
— Aswin (@AswinkumarMech) February 5, 2017
What a performance it was at Selhurts Park ! SUNDERLAND totally out of the blocks and nailed it! JANUZAJ was a joy to watch!
— Cornelius Pappy Kojo (@EvansKwofie5) February 5, 2017
Solid performance by Adnan Januzaj. 👌 #MOTD
— Arlind (@ArlindHalimi) February 4, 2017
Adnan Januzaj provided two assists in a Premier League game for the first time in his career against Crystal Palace yesterday.
— ADEGBITE, #SiquBan (@iamsiqu) February 5, 2017