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Manchester United starlet set to switch international allegiance?

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According to reports in Belgium, Adnan Januzaj could switch his international allegiance to Kosovo.

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Adnan Januzaj. You may remember him as an extra in Antonio Valencia's FA Cup celebrations video, and his assortment of other bit-part roles in both England and Germany. He struggled to even make Manchester United's bench under Louis van Gaal, and having prematurely been touted as one of the club's finest youth prospects, his career has nosedived to the extent that he'll likely to have to go elsewhere to establish himself.

Rather unsurprisingly, his hopes of regular international football in a very competitive Belgium side have taken a big hit over the last year, with the 21-year-old unlikely to add to his six caps any time soon. Indeed, according to reports coming out of Belgium -- Januzaj's country of birth -- he may never receive another Belgium call-up again, albeit for other reasons than his recent poor form.

According to DH.be, who cite Eroll Salihu, general secretary of the Kosovo Football Federation, Januzaj has agreed to switch international allegiance to the side recently admitted as FIFA's 210th member. One could well be cynical and suggest that this is because Januzaj fancies playing international football and realises it's not going to come with Belgium any time soon. But to do so could well be to understate the importance of Kosovo in Januzaj's history.

As detailed in an interesting piece in the Daily Mail (turns out that's not an oxymoron):

But to understand Abedin Januzaj [Adnan's father] you have to know his story and the struggle the Januzaj family faced during Kosovo's violent past.

While Abedin fled Kosovo, other members of this close-knit family took up arms in the country's war of independence against the Serbs as the former Yugoslavia disintegrated.

But the bond between them remains strong, with relatives speaking fondly this week of the teenage football star who frequently visits the bustling provincial town of Istog, nestled beneath the mountains that separate Kosovo from Serbia and Montenegro.

Every summer the fluent Albanian-speaking youngster spends several weeks at the family home, a tidy farm surrounded by fields of maize, in a hamlet named after the Januzaj family. In these times of peace Januzaj can play football with his uncles and cousins. But those relatives recall the struggle against the oppression of communism and anti-Albanian racism in war-torn Kosovo.

Clearly Kosovo being recognised by FIFA is a big deal for Januzaj and like peoples. He may well have been born in Brussels, but his heritage is about as bound up in Kosovo and its violent history as it's possible to be. In this instance, the decision seems about more than the football.