Adnan Januzaj says just because he is on loan at Sunderland does not mean the club’s current plight isn’t hurting him.
Six points from safety, Sunderland prop up the Premier League table and are in deep relegation danger ahead of the must-win game against Burnley on Saturday.
Januzaj is on a season-long loan from parent club Manchester United but insists keeping the Black Cats up means as much to him as anyone.
The Belgian says any suggestion that he doesn’t care is wide of the mark, with the young forward revealing he is desperate to help keep Sunderland in the top flight.
“I am not a selfish player. People always think he is just on loan, he doesn’t care really – it is not like that,” said Januzaj.
“I don’t like losing and when we lose I don’t even want to go out for a meal or anything. It is just my mentality.
“I want Sunderland to stay in the Premier League and to say to people I was at Sunderland and we stayed up.
“There might be some players who don’t care when they go out on loan but I am not like this. I have never been selfish.
“I always want my teams to win. I don’t like to lose.
“People might think I don’t care because I am only on loan, but when you look at it I have also done the bad side of the job, the horrible side of the job defending – that’s because I care.”
The forward hasn’t set the world alight since arriving on loan, with just one goal to his name in 22 appearances - the winning goal against Shrewsbury in the EFL Cup way back in August.
The 22-year-old has shown flashes of his potential but has also faced heavy criticism at times, with manager David Moyes praising and criticising Januzaj in equal measure.
Januzaj has no qualms and says criticism can only make him stronger as he looks to help Sunderland claw back the six-point gap to safety.
“Obviously this manager thinks that because he knows what I can do. I don’t mind when a manager tries to push me,” added Januzaj.
“He is being hard on me and I have to take it and try to play some big games.
“Criticism makes you stronger. You can criticise me how you want, the first thing that I think about is my own game when I go out onto the pitch.
“I would say mentally I have improved, that has been a strength of mine.
“It has been a hard time for me because it has not been an easy position to be in. I have become a much stronger player than I have been.
“Defensively I have also had to improve because I have had to defend more.
“That has helped my fitness as well. I feel much fitter now playing this way.”