Manchester United cannot afford to sell Nani

by Sam Peoples

After his performance against Everton on Monday night there has been a raucous, almost medieval, swell of discontent amongst many fans calling for Nani to be shipped out of United. Few players have ever caused as much frustration as Nani and it is the frustration that causes such a divide amongst supporters.

On his day Nani is a world class winger and a match winner, nobody can deny that. Take his performance against Manchester City in the 2011 Community Shield for example. He scored what I thought was the goal of the year after some fantastic team play and chased down the ball in the dying embers of the game to streak off and score the winner. He was utterly superb in that game. However, he cannot seem to find that consistency at United, hence why some sections of fans want to see him out.

This beautiful piece of wizardry was my personal goal of the season

I am a firm believer Nani simply cannot be sold. Sure, he hasn’t lived up to the billing since Ronaldo departed. We all thought that stepping out of his shadow might spring his career into life but the fact of the matter is, for all his inconsistencies and poor performances, his return is fantastic.

Player Starts Time Played  Appearances  Goals Minutes per goal     Assists Minutes per assist
 Nani    24       2203          29     8             275    10           220.3
 Bale    36       3390          36     9             376.6    10           339
 Nasri    27       2338          31     5             467.6     9           259.7

Statistics provided by Fantasy Football Scout

Selling Nani and buying Gareth Bale might be a dream for some fans but the reality is that Nani has a far better goalscoring and assist ratio in the league than he does as well as City reject Samir Nasri. In the Premier League last season, he almost had the exact same return that Bale did but played over 1,000 minutes less. The media had their tongue up Gareth Bale all season but Nani received little praise – a bit farcical really.

If Manchester United had landed Lucas Moura, I might not have had to write this article. Nani may well have already been sold to fund his purchase but the point is that the only way United could ever afford to sell Nani would be if we brought in a world class replacement.

Every team needs individuals. Our double winning team of 2007/8 had Ronaldo. Arsenal’s “Invincibles” had Henry. These individuals are not like any other player in their respective teams – they are capable of pulling wonderful things out of a hat in the blink of an eye. Nobody else in this current United crop of players is similar to Nani – Young and Valencia are effective but predictable.

It might get frustrating seeing Nani spoon a shot over the bar or dribble himself into a corner but I think it is far worse to see United passing the ball sideways on the edge of the box for five minutes with nobody stepping up to the plate to at least attempt something. Not doing anything at all is far worse than trying and failing.

Right now, we are building a squad that is going to be built for dynamic, free flowing football and I see Nani as a major part of it. He may not have the consistency that we all cry out for but his return is phenomenal when that is taken into account. How good could he be if he found that consistency?

It is that possibility that keeps him at United and why SAF continues to show faith in him. At 25, he hasn’t peaked as a player and his best years are to come. Having improved the squad with the likes of Kagawa and Robin van Persie, selling Nani would be nothing but a backwards and rather pointless step.

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