Manchester United have confirmed that Portuguese winger Nani has signed a new five-year contract with the club.
The new deal will see Nani into his 30’s at Old Trafford and comes after a summer where it was widely expected the flamboyant wide man would be leaving United.
Nani signed for Manchester United in 2007 for over €25million from Sporting Lisbon. He has always shown great promise at Old Trafford but has so consistently failed to make the grade. Constantly in and out of the side in his early years, it was clear to see the potential and that here was a player that could grow into something special.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the main man at United in Nani’s early years at the club. Comparisons were unfairly drawn between the two compatriots and Nani struggled under that pressure. Nani only made 17 league appearances in his second season at the club in 2008-09 where United won the league title, but did feature more in the successful Champions League campaign, where he played 7 times. Sir Alex Ferguson was very selective about which games Nani played.
It was following the sale of Ronaldo in 2009 that Nani had his best spells. The back end of the 2009-10 season was very strong for him and Nani was named as Manchester Uniteds’ players’ player of the year in 2010-11, where United recaptured the Premier League from Chelsea. It appeared as though he had found his moment at United as was beginning to become the player he was always touted to be.
Unfortunately through a combination of inconsistent form and injury, that never materialised. Again often a bench warmer when fit, Nani featured just 17 times in the league last season and it was widely suggested he would be moved on in the summer.
The change of manager however from Sir Alex Ferguson to David Moyes appears to have changed the fortunes of the Portugal star. Moyes has seen enough in Nani to give him the five year deal, faith which Nani will be looking to repay.
He said: “I’m very happy that the new manager has shown this faith in me and I’m looking forward to helping the team compete for more honours this season”.
Perhaps this is the moment that Nani really will blossom into the player that his talent has always threatened he would. The failure of Manchester United’s transfer activities this summer has left the squad lacking creativity and Nani is one man who could help fill that void. At 26, he is now one of the more experienced members of the squad, and as such must take responsibility for the team. If Nani can find top form, United have a valuable asset.
Different managers view players differently. It became apparent that Sir Alex Ferguson realised Nani’s ability, but never really trusted the player to do the job he needed on a regular basis. David Moyes seems to feel differently and has given the player the chance to prove himself at Manchester United.
With pressure on the new manager given the summer that has just gone, he needs to turn to the likes of Nani and rely on him to deliver. The time has come for Nani to stop being a talented prospect and start being a consistent match winner.
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