Manchester United outcast Nani has to go down as one the most expensive mistakes Red Devils transfer chiefs have made in recent years, and that's saying something.
Such a sweeping statement is not a dig not aimed solely at the enigmatic Portuguese winger, who has made the most of a loan return to Sporting Lisbon in an impressive return to form this season.
It's United who need their heads examining though, first for letting one of the club's top earners on £120,000-a-week spend a season away from Old Trafford for nothing, and then changing their minds to ask the snubbed star if he'll come back and be a benchwarmer in January.
U-turn of epic proportions, but no release clause
The 27-year-old's Champions League form has prompted Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal to ask if there's any way he can get Nani back in January, but that looks very unlikely to happen thanks to a huge oversight from United transfer brokers.
Not only are United paying Nani's £120,000-a-week wages to play for Sporting this season in full, but there's no direct release clause in the deal because the loan agreement was effectively a makeweight in the £16million deal which brought Marcos Rojo to Old Trafford.
Lack of clear direction there for all to see
Perhaps even more inexplicable than Van Gaal's u-turn or Woodward's scattergun approach to transfer dealings is United's decision to hand Nani a new five-year deal more than 12 months ago.
Nani was handed a guaranteed six-figure salary last October until 2018, despite being frustratingly inconsistent and often injured during the three previous seasons at United.
Even if previous manager David Moyes had huge faith in the Portuguese international there's no way he deemed worth of such lucrative terms, at least not until he'd started delivering week-in, week-out in the Premier League.
Irony could now leave United out of pocket
The biggest irony in Nani's fantastic start to the season for Sporting, which includes three goals in four Champions League games, is that he's finally producing consistent performances more than 1,500 miles away from the Theatre of Dreams.
Quite how Woodward expects to persuade Sporting chairman Bruno de Carvalho to part with his new star freebie in the middle of a very promising campaign is anyone's guess, but it could even mean restructuring the payment on Rojo's move to the Premier League.
With every assist or long-range strike Nani produces at the Estadio Jose Alvalade the situation gets more embarrassing, and potentially more expensive for United, who simply have to stop making such basic mistakes in the transfer market if they want to keep attracting star players and top coaches in the long-term.
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