Portuguese winger Nani has taken a swipe at Manchester United by claiming that his season-long loan move to Sporting Lisbon does not represent a backwards step in his career.
The 27-year-old returned to Estádio José Alvalade temporarily as part of the player-plus-cash deal that saw Argentine defender Marcos Rojo head to Old Trafford during the summer transfer window.
Nani had fallen down the first-team pecking order at Manchester United after seven frustrating seasons with the Premier League giants, culminating in new Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal allowing the £120,000-a-week flop to leave for the duration of the 2014/15 campaign.
Manchester United will continue to pay 100 per cent of the player's salary during his spell back in Portugal, which will cost the club close to £5 million in total.
It's an expense that had to be signed off by United to make Nani's return to Sporting happen, given the Primeira Liga outfit's precarious financial situation which means they cannot afford to cover his wages.
Van Gaal will be hoping that there will be a long-term benefit for the Red Devils, with the opportunity for a season of regular football able to help rejuvenate the under-performing star's dwindling career.
Either way, Nani does not see the move back to his old club as a regression after revealing that he had a number of other options available to him, but ultimately chose to return to Lisbon.
"I do not see how it is a step back. It was my choice," he was quoted saying by the Daily Express. "I could have gone the other way, but I preferred Sporting and I feel happy."
The arrival of Angel di Maria from Real Madrid in a British record transfer deal worth a mouthwatering £59.7 million would've restricted Nani's opportunities at Old Trafford even further this term, so it was perhaps best the Portugal international left for pastures new.
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Although his departure is only on a temporary basis it's unlikely the wide-man will ever play for Manchester United again, and fans will expect him to be sold permanently next summer.
Sporting Lisbon will probably not be able to afford the type of fee demanded by the Red Devils so the forward must consider alternative destinations upon the completion of his loan deal with Marco Silva's side.
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