Manchester United have ended the transfer speculation surrounding their Portuguese winger Nani by handing him a new five-year contract at the club. The tricky attacker had been linked with a move away from Old Trafford after only playing 11 times in the Premier League last season, but now is seemingly part of new manager David Moyes’ plans.
Despite winning the Premier League with relative ease last term, an area of weakness for the champions was their wingers. Previously a source of consistent threat, the club’s widemen all seemed to have a dip in form or suffer injuries simultaneously last season.
Ashley Young was the victim of debilitating knocks and also had to live with claims of diving, while Antonio Valencia went from the club’s most-consistent performer to the most-consistently mediocre. Over the summer Wilfried Zaha has been added to freshen up the options on the flank, but despite his potential the former Crystal Palace man still has a lot to learn.
Nani’s standing at Old Trafford has appeared to have dropped over the last 12 months and despite injuries, only seven Premier League starts last term is an underwhelming total. However, with David Moyes now at the helm, the 26-year-old could well see his luck change for the better. The club have failed to add creativity to a team crying out for it over the summer transfer window, and as such Nani’s unpredictability could well be an asset that Moyes looks to utilise.
Once hailed as the potential replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford, Nani has blown hot and cold during his time in England since signing for United in May 2007. He is capable of a moment of magic, unparalleled trickery and contributes his share of the goals towards the cause. However, he has infuriated the United fans with over-elaboration and a poor end product on occasion.
Although Young is back to fitness, Zaha has been signed and Valencia put in a solid performance off the bench against Liverpool, Nani could well be in line for a consistent run of games if he can get his mind right. The former Sporting Lisbon man is a confidence player and that assurance seemed to drift away slightly last term. With a new manager and a new contract, the winger can start to believe in his considerable abilities once more.
The lack of creativity in the United midfield is something that has been discussed to death, but having solid characters in the side’s midfield might not be a bad thing if someone like Nani is on the wing. With Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick and new man Marouane Fellaini set to rule the roost in the boiler room for the champions, Nani could provide the missing attributes of guile and craft from a wide position.
After being awarded with the new contract Nani now has a big season ahead of him. Looking at United’s options on the flanks there is no guarantee that he will play week-in, week-out, but if he can get back to the form that he displayed in the 2011-12 season he could be an important man for the club. David Moyes will know this, and will hope the wildcard can display his positive attributes more often than his inconsistency in the side’s quest for silverware this term.