With news that Manchester United’s forgotten man Nani plans to return to the club when his loan deal with Sporting Lisbon expires in the summer, according to the Daily Star, here’s a look at why the Portuguese winger deserves another chance at Old Trafford next term.
The 28-year-old certainly doesn’t have an easy route back into Louis van Gaal’s starting lineup, with the Dutchman struggling as it is to fit in the likes of Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Adnan Januzaj.
However, it is worth looking at players like Mata and Young and seeing how quickly a player can rediscover their best form if shown some confidence, which is clearly the main problem Nani has had in recent years.
Prior to the 2012/13 season, Sir Alex Ferguson’s last in charge, Nani was a hugely influential performer in the Red Devils’ midfield, always scoring high in goals and assists to make him one of the most dangerous players in the team. Far from simply being a tricky winger with pace and nothing else, Nani was a hugely intelligent and creative performer who could provide match-winning moments of genius. He is unfortunate to be compared with his fellow coutryman Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined the club at a similarly young age from the same club, Sporting Lisbon; just because he’s nothing like Ronaldo, doesn’t mean he’s not worth something to this club.
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With 10 goals and 2 assists in Portugal this season, the attacker looks close to rediscovering some of his best form and might have had the break out of the spotlight that he needs. Van Gaal has shown faith in the likes of Mata and Young, and there’s enough past evidence to suggest Nani can be just as good if not better. So why not? Attacking midfielders are clearly on the club’s agenda as they target big names like Memphis Depay, but there’s always the chance that the solution is already right under your nose – see also Harry Kane at Tottenham and Francis Coquelin at Arsenal this season.
Unlike those two, however, Nani is not a young unknown, he has proven himself to be one of the best in Europe for much of his career. One or two below-par seasons should not undo that, and it would be nice to see a club stick with a player instead of rushing to the transfer market for once.