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Saturday's clash with Southampton HAS to be the turning point in Adnan Januzaj's Sunderland career

Now that there is a perfectly-suited role for him in the Sunderland team - and the fans are starting to believe that he can be an asset to us - the time is now for Adnan Januzaj to fulfill his potential.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Players who come on loan to Sunderland very rarely fly under the radar.

Cult heroes such as Patrice Carteron - who slotted one through the legs of Shay Given to score against the mags, Fabio Borini - who enjoyed a heroic first spell on Wearside, and youngsters like Danny Rose and Jonny Evans who we were desperate to keep have all rocked up on Wearside and made an impact. There have been, of course, some awful loan signings in recent years - players like Anthony Le Tallec and Sotirios Kyrgiakos - but they’ve still been talking points nonetheless.

Adnan Januzaj's spell thus far at Sunderland is perhaps best described as 'inconsistent'. There has been more frustration than jubilation, and the enigmatic midfielder certainly has much more to prove if he’s going to make an impact on Sunderland’s fortunes, never mind breaking back into the Manchester United team when he returns there in the summer.

That said, the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace finally allowed Sunderland fans to get a glimpse of the player they saw make a devastating first Premier League start for Manchester United at The Stadium of Light back in 2013.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It’s well-trodden ground now about how it was David Moyes who gave Januzaj that first start, and how Moyes was the only United manager to really get Januzaj firing, but perhaps faith is what both men need right now. In Januzaj, you have a young player at a cross roads in his career whilst playing for a struggling club. If he wants to reach his full potential - and not end up alongside Robbie Savage on the list of players who came through the United youth ranks but never made the grade - he cannot mess up this loan spell.

Similarly, Moyes finds himself at a career-defining juncture. Another failure, after the United nightmare and his spell in the Spanish wilderness, will see his once proud reputation left in tatters. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he’s surrounded himself with players he can trust, such as Bryan Oviedo, Darron Gibson, Joleon Lescott and - of course - Januzaj, who now finds himself back in the Sunderland team.

If both men are going to come through this difficult period successfully, they both desperately need their relationship to work.

With attacking options currently thin on the ground for Sunderland, it’s perhaps Moyes who needs Januzaj the most. Somewhat tragically, an injury sustained at Selhurst Park could cut the Belgian international's revival short before it has had a chance to fully get going. Should the injury reveal itself to not be serious, though, then there is a great chance for Januzaj to build upon his relationship with Jermain Defoe.

The goals that were scored by Defoe on Saturday were both assisted by the man playing just behind him, and it showed that there is an intriguing understanding between the two. Januzaj played two passes he barely had to think about to give Defoe the opportunity to score, with the fourth goal being especially pleasing.

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town: EFL Cup Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The perfectly weighted pass along the ground looked innocuous at first glance, but not to Defoe or Januzaj.

Since Victor Anichebe is facing a prolonged period on the treatment table, Sunderland need to find an alternative way to penetrate their opposition. We may have lost Anichebe’s hold up play from aerial balls but with Januzaj linking the deep midfield to the attack, we now have a player who can hold things up with a clean first touch and the ability to take on and beat his man. It’s not the same as the direct style employed by Moyes during our good run of form in late November/early December, but it’s a good way of playing to our strengths. The 5-3-1-1 system looks a suitable formation for Sunderland - a team lacking in wingers but with plenty of full backs.

It further suits Januzaj too, as his defensive duties (or lack thereof) aren’t as necessary, due to the packed midfield and flooded centre of defence - especially when that midfield contains the unstoppable engine of Didier Ndong.

There have been other flashes from Adnan Januzaj this season and it would be foolish to put all your faith in this being the turning point, but it has to be, though.

In the current system Sunderland are using, there’s a clearly defined position in the team which he is perfect for. If he can stay fit, stay motivated and stays on the same telepathic wavelength of Jermain Defoe, he’ll surely be remembered as more of a Danny Rose than an Anthony Le Tallec.

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