Football

Nani should have left Manchester United

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The year is 2007, a young Portuguese winger heralded as having the talent to become one of the game's greats arrives at Manchester United with the world at his feet.

Those of you who know you're Manchester United history will have figured by now that I'm not talking about Cristiano Ronaldo. No, it's Nani who is the topic of the day, fresh from the signing of a new five-year-deal with Manchester United; one that in my opinion could turn out to be a career-defining mistake.

Since joining the Red Devils, Nani has shown glimpses of his unquestionable talent, but never really evolved into the world-beating winger that Sir Alex envisaged him becoming. Similar in many ways to his more famous compatriot, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani had all the makings of a player capable of filling the void when his mentor departed for Real Madrid in 2009, but never fully realised his potential.

His career at Old Trafford has been very much a stop-start affair, with spells of individual brilliance contrasting with frequent bouts of frustratingly poor form which leave him somewhere in between regular fixture and benchwarmer in the fight for dominance over United's right wing.

Not managing to hold down a first-team place at United was evidence enough to suggest that Sir Alex had finally become resigned to selling the 26-year-old last season, but with subsequent retirement of the former, and the introduction of David Moyes as his successor have prompted a very different outcome. This week Nani signed a five-year deal to tie him to United, but in my opinion it was a decision that may end up being one that he regrets.

The choice to offer Nani the contract in the first place shows that Moyes has more confidence in his ability to ultimately become a success story than Ferguson did. Still though, the Portugal international has many critics, and his lack of consistency whilst at Old Trafford is a flaw that will play heavily on whether or not he gets enough game time to improve his credentials.

I'm not for one minute suggesting that the club were wrong to offer the former Sporting man a new contract, but was he right for taking them up on the proposal? That's a question that I'm open to debate. 

Rather than pen a new deal, Nani should have perhaps looked to reinvigorate his career at another club. The likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool would have undoubtedly been willing to pay money for his acquisition, and the fact that he has years left in which to hit his peak means that a return to one of the world's biggest clubs would not have been a preposterous prediction.

At United, I fear Nani will remain a figure of bit-part significance. Barring a complete change in the way he effects games, he will always struggle to pin down a place in the starting XI, and a lack of action could see his ability to develop further negated.

The man once lauded as the successor to Cristiano Ronaldo has forever lived in the latter's shadow at United. Fans of the Red Devils will always compare the two, and ultimately there is no real comparison to be made; Nani will never be Ronaldo.

Valiant as it is to opt to stay and fight for a place in one of the biggest teams in the world, on this occasion I'm of the opinion that Nani could have enjoyed heightened personal success somewhere else. He's good enough to be a threat to any defence on his day, but whether he'll ever really have his day at United remains a topic of much debate.

For me Nani just doesn't cut it at the very highest level, and as a result he'll never truly emulate the glory his arrival once promised.

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Topics:
Manchester United
Luis Nani
Football
Premier League
Nani

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