Few Manchester United supporters would have shed tears if Nani was granted permission to leave Old Trafford this summer, but they will soon realise that the club's decision to hand him a new lucrative five-year contract could pay dividends.

Last season was Nani's toughest since arriving from Sporting Lisbon in 2007 for £17m. The 26-year-old made just 10 Premier League appearances - thanks mainly to a couple of hamstring injuries - and generally performed below-par when handed an opportunity.

Still, David Moyes and the club recently took the bold decision to offer Nani a new long-term deal in the hope that he will recapture his form of the previous two seasons.

In those, Nani hit double figures in all competitions and also weighed in with countless assists. The inconsistent youngster had finally, after three frustrating seasons, matured into the real deal - at least it seemed, anyway.

After last season, question marks still hover over the Portugal international - but there were no such doubts in the mind of Moyes and his backroom staff.

"I'm really pleased Nani has re-signed for the next five years," the Scot told BBC Sport. "He has great ability and experience beyond his 26 years.

"I've been impressed with his approach to training and look forward to working with him in the coming seasons."

Clearly, if his committed performances in training are an indicator, Nani is determined to re-establish himself as one of the club's first-choice wingers this season.

On his day the Portugal international is arguably the Red Devils' best wide-man, equipped with the rare ability to conjure a flash of inspiration from either flank or even through the middle.

Had Nani not signed a new deal he would have left Old Trafford for a relatively low fee - his contract was due to expire next summer - and United would have struggled to bring in an adequate replacement unless they parted with some serious cash in the transfer market.

But after six years at the club, and the proven ability to put up the numbers for United, keeping Nani was much less of a risk.

The winger has previously produced fine performances for the Premier League giants in both the league and in Europe - and there's no reason why he can't do the same over the next five seasons.

"Playing at United has been a fantastic experience for me," Nani said after signing his new deal. "When I came to the club, I never imagined the success we have enjoyed."

With Nani in the squad, Manchester United fans can expect even more success over the next few years.

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Luis Nani
Football
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Nani