The impending departure of Nani from Manchester United evokes more questions than answers. Undoubtedly talented, arguably the most skilful member of the present United squad, Nani is an enigma. His departure from the Premier League is certainly a negative in terms of entertainment, but unfortunately given a player of his calibre, his departure will not grab the headlines other transfers of lesser known players nominally garner.
Monaco and Juventus are the two clubs most prominently linked with the player, whose asking price of £8.5 million is ridiculous in comparison to the fee Liverpool paid for Stewart Downing a couple of years ago. However, not to be derogatory towards Downing, Nani is frankly a far superior player.
The curious case of Nani is that he will forever be in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow. From the moment he signed for Manchester United in the Summer of 2007, his every step has been compared and contrasted with his fellow Portuguese colleague. Such comparisons were unfair then and even more so now. A player such as Ronaldo is arguably one of the all time great European footballers, up there with the greatest players in history. Nani is good, very good, but he is not at that level.
So is a move away from Manchester United correct at this stage of his career? While he has achieved a tremendous amount during his at Old Trafford, one has to question if he would be better served moving to an emerging European force such as Monaco or a club looking to leave their mark on the Champions League in Juventus. If their current spending splurge is anything to go by then Monaco are set to become one of the major powerhouses of European football over the years to come. With the club still heavily indebted who is to say United can maintain their present form in the current climate, with Chelsea and Manchester City breathing down their necks. Nani must determine if being a squad player is enough to satisfy his talents or will a move finally provide him with the necessary push to let him finally achieve his undoubted ability?
The European game today is bereft of two-footed players able to score, dribble and pass; Nani is one such player who can do the lot. His stagnated progress over the last year and a half is partially down to injury and partially down to poor team selection. Seriously how could one make the case for Antonio Valencia or Ashley Young to be picked ahead of a player this talented on a weekly basis? Football is a sport today where past achievements are quickly forgotten. If Nani wants to be truly remembered as the player he believes he is then a move is undoubtedly the best thing for his career.
Next season is a crucial one in the career of Nani. No longer a young player, he must begin to showcase the ability that he so clearly possesses to justify a move to either of the aforementioned clubs. Having skill is one thing, replicating it on the pitch during a European game or away to a struggling league side is the hallmark of a great player. While Nani has done this to an extent throughout his career, his flash nature has seen him often do the opposite on many occasions also. This inconsistency is the reason why many United fans will not lament his departure as they should. Players of Nani’s ability are rare, truly rare in today’s footballing climate. Therefore while he may move on from the Premier League, we can be certain it won’t be the last time we will be seeing Nani in the near future.