What Does The Future Hold For Luis Nani?


By Sean McCarron

With January approaching, football fans across the whole of England will be wondering who their club will be buying or selling. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson this week confirmed he will definitely not be adding to his squad this January. He did not mention about detracting from it though.

United winger Luis Nani has been the source of many of the pre-transfer window rumours. Many believe the Portuguese wingers future lies away from Old Trafford, with clubs like Juventus, Roma and even Arsenal all linked with the player.

When Nani joined United in 2007 everyone knew he had bags of ability but being so young, he was far from the finished article. But, after five years United fans would have hoped and expected to have seen more by now.

Whilst Nani’s Portuguese team mate Cristiano Ronaldo applied his trade at Old Trafford, Nani was always in his shadow. So in 2009 when Ronaldo left for Real Madrid, surely this was time for Nani to step out of the shadow and begin to create his legacy at United.

Unfortunately he’s yet to do that. There’s no doubting the wingers ability, he has great pace, great skill and is able to produce that piece of magic that can win a game for United but ultimately the consistency that makes a world class player just hasn’t been there.

United have always been known as a team that loves having brilliant attacking wingers and they’ve been lucky enough to see some of the best in the world. After all, United fans were fortunate enough to watch Ronaldo blossom into one of the greatest plays ever at Old Trafford, so why didn’t Nani follow suit?

It is unfair to compare Nani to Ronaldo, but unfortunately for Nani with them both being wingers, a similar age and Portuguese it is bound to happen. When Ronaldo played for United, the United faithful always knew that as soon as he got the ball something was going to happen. Ronaldo single handily won United so many games and United fans know that Nani has that special ability to change a game, but it is something we rarely get to see.

This season the winger hasn’t featured as much as he would have liked, whether that be due to injury or the fact he just isn’t in the managers plans anymore. United’s other two recognised first team wingers Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are both ahead in the pecking order and though the pair are not playing to their optimum level they are still contributing to the team whether through attacking play and/or fulfilling tactical roles as seen in the recent Manchester derby.

With the wingers contract talks seemingly always stop-start, there is a lot of talk that he will leave in January or the end of the season. If he did leave United, a price of around £15-20 million is the estimated value that would prize him away. But United fans have to ask themselves for this amount of money, is there a winger that could be brought in for the same price who is better than Nani?

Let’s look at the options, Gareth Bale would be an amazing signing, but he is going to cost presumably double the amount United would secure for Nani. Another option is Nicolas Gaitan, known to United fans as one of Benfica’s key players that helped to eliminate United out of the Champions League last year. The winger is blessed with bags of pace and has hinted before that he would like to apply his trade in the Premier League.

Two more options come in the form of James Rodriguez and Wilfried Zaha. Both youngsters have been heavily linked with moves to the Premier League after an impressive first half of the season at their respective clubs. Porto are thought to want in the region of £25-30 million for Rodriguez, whilst Zaha would be up for grabs at around £10-15 million.

A final option is Theo Walcott. Walcott who is yet to sign a new deal at Arsenal is demanding that if he is to stay at The Gunners he is seen as a striker and not a winger. Like Nani though, Walcott has bags of potential and was signed as a young boy who was destined for footballing world domination. Unfortunately, also like Nani, his consistency just isn’t there.

Although Nani’s performances can sometimes frustrate United fans, he is often used a scapegoat to place blame on. But would it really be a good move to sell him? United are 6 points clear at the top of the Premier League and if anything surely should be wanting to bolster their squad to maintain their lead rather than diminishing it.

United have great attacking options in the form of Nani, Young, Valencia and still have Shinji Kagawa to return from injury. With them still being in the Champions League and FA Cup, games will come thick and fast and having a big squad can only help their chances of progressing further in all competitions.

Nani has matured greatly over the last five years. Nobody at Old Trafford doubts he has the ability to be a world class player, but something is missing. It could just be the fact he isn’t consistent enough and to be a star at United, one good game in five just isn’t good enough.

If Ferguson does decide to keep hold of Nani and he does sign a new contract then hopefully this will give him the confidence boost he needs to go on and finally step out of the shadow of Ronaldo and become a United legend in his own right.

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