Nani is a player of immense talent but with the unstoppable highs in form have increasingly come the completely ineffective, often negative lows in form. With only one year left on his contract at Old Trafford, and with United seemingly having given up on him becoming the next Cristiano Ronaldo, as seemed possible a couple of years ago, he is up for sale.
Galatasaray chairman Unal Aysal told Sky Sports News that; ‘We offered £6m for him. But they didn’t accept. We can’t give more than this…They want £8.5million’. Now, at first glance £8.5m for a player with the potential to be devastatingly good when in form seems like a bargain, and the low price is a clear sign that United are willing to move him on. It is quite a dramatic fall from grace for Nani, who as recently as the 2011 was one of United’s key players.
Nani’s first few years at United had been a promising but frustrating cocktail of sheer pace, direct dribbling and an ability to get involved around the penalty box, but it wasn’t until the 2010/11 season that he emerged as truly world class. Coming off the frustration of missing the World Cup due to injury he seemed like a man possessed. He ended the season with nine goals and 19 assists in the Premier League as United raced to the title. Having sold Ronaldo in 2009 United had needed to replace his output and Nani was doing his best to do so. It seemed like, by the end of 2010/11, that he was reaching that level.
However, the season proved to be more of an anomaly than a sign of things to come. The reason for this is Nani’s playing style. Because he plays at such breakneck speed and takes risks that other players wouldn’t, he is a player that relies on getting in to a groove and hitting form. However, in 2011/12 he took a step back. Despite a solid enough output of 8 goals and 12 assists he seemed to go missing in tight games. This was compounded by United’s purchase of Ashley Young for £18m, which gave Ferguson another option and a reason to drop Nani if his production slowed down.
Much of his output came when United were handing out thrashings. In only three games in the league was he involved in the crucial goal in the game for United. His stats looked solid but they were padded with contributions in games United won at a canter, often against the smaller clubs. Big hauls against Wolves and Fulham weren’t exactly what Sir Alex Ferguson wanted. As he strived for form he got worse as he was trying to do too much, over complicating things. In early 2012 he had a run of playing in only two of ten games as Ferguson lost trust in him.
Nani went into 2012/13 with much to prove, but failed to do so regularly. He only scored one and set up just three in the league. A slow start to the season was compounded by a hamstring injury, which meant he missed 12 games. When he got back he showed the occasional flash of form but his United career was ended in two games. As harsh as the red card against Real Madrid was, he was still the scapegoat. But his showing against Chelsea in the FA Cup just weeks later was totally ineffective in attack and negligent in defence. Most United fans had had enough of his up and down form, which had mostly been the latter and he seems unlikely to fit in to David Moyes’ United.
Despite the drop off in form, he still has the potential to be a very good player, but only if he can go somewhere he will be played every week. His best form came when he was the guaranteed starter week in and week out. He’s going to have games where he does nothing but if you ride through those you can get a stretch of games where he contributes each time. He’s not going to get that at United but for £8.5m he is worth taking a wager on.