The curious case of Nani and Antonio Valencia

by Nicolas Berg

As fellow 2007 signing Anderson is struggling to find a new employer, the case with Nani is even stranger. We’ve decided to take a look…

Nani was predicted to have a bright future when he was taking part in Manchester United’s Premier League and Champions League double swoop in his first season. Despite struggling a little bit in the following season, the calendar year of 2010 stands out for the former Sporting Lisbon player.

At the time, he was among the best players in the world, picking up goals and assists for fun. In some terms, the autumn of 2010 was the time for unappreciated geniuses at Old Trafford; Nani and Dimitar Berbatov carried the title bid over the turn of the year when a certain other attacker wasn’t interested, nor fit, to contribute in any way for the club.

However, following on from that, Nani’s flair was consistently omitted in favour of the more predictable Antonio Valencia since the latter came back from his horrific ankle injury in 2011. In 2012 , it was the Ecuadorian’s time to shine and he tore defences apart with his unpolished yet unstoppable game built on raw power and pace. However, when the 2012/13 season kicked on, the magic was all gone.

Nonetheless, bar a few flashes of the old winger, Valencia’s consistently underwhelming performances have generally been accepted by Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Ryan Giggs and Louis van Gaal. He doesn’t create much, his movement is predictable, he loses his mind whilst in defence, he can’t dribble and he passes it backwards more often not.

With Nani, the bizarre circumstances occurred during Moyes’ failed spell at United. In September 2013, Nani signed a five-year contract yet he only played 13 games all season. Subsequently, he has been on loan to his former club Sporting Lisbon.

One can only wonder what on earth has been going on at United over the past two seasons. Handing a five-year-deal worth £95,000 a week to a player the manager doesn’t trust hardly seems the brightest idea. The only thing stranger than that would be to send Nani out on loan for a whole season and agree to pay all of his wages. Ah, yes, United did.

How will the Nani saga end? As Van Gaal doesn’t seem to rate him, his future seems on an outbound flight from Manchester. Unlike in the Anderson scenario, somebody will be interested in signing him. After all, seven goals in 23 games this season isn’t bad for a midfielder, even if it’s in the Portuguese league.d.

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