Nani Needs To Leave Manchester United Or Forever Be A Poor Man's Cristiano Ronaldo

Infuriatingly inconsistent and unable to make the most of his potential, it's become clear that Manchester United are best off selling Nani to a club that will give him the game time he desperately needs.
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Infuriatingly inconsistent and unable to make the most of his potential, it's become clear that Manchester United are best off selling Nani to a club that will give him the game time he desperately needs.

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When Cristiano Ronaldo left Old Trafford in the summer of 2009, there was a feeling amongst many that, despite the blow of losing arguably the world's greatest player (somewhat softened by the bumper £80million transfer fee), the move could come as a massive benefit to Manchester United's second Portuguese starlet, Luis Nani. Up until the move to Madrid, Nani had always been forced to play second fiddle to Ronaldo, a somewhat inevitable consequence of being from the same country, arriving at United from the same club (Sporting Lisbon) and playing in the same position. At 22 years of age, it seemed Nani was in prime position to take up the mantle and become a Premier League star for years to come.

Sadly, the shadow cast by Ronaldo was slow to lift and, rather than being driven on by the hopes and expectations of the Old Trafford faithful, Nani has always appeared somewhat burdened by them. The potential that he showed in his early United career has unfortunately failed to materialise and the small amount of progress that he has made in the 3 and a half years since Ronaldo's departure is not significant enough to lift him into the pantheon of United greats.

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To dismiss Nani as a poor player however, is to do him a massive disservice. On his day he is a magnificent sight, tearing down the wing with his pace and trickery, he has left many a full back in his wake - I remember particularly a wonderful display against Arsenal in 2010, in which he tricked his way past two defenders on the touchline, dropped a shoulder to pass a third at the byline, and dinked a beautiful cross over Almunia that the Arsenal keeper could only help into the back of the net - but his form has always been sporadic at best. For every stunning display there have been plenty in which he was largely absent. For every wonder strike and silky skill, there has been a whole host of punts into row Z and overworked stepovers.

Looking at the United squad this season and bearing in mind the recent acquisition of Wilfried Zaha, Nani may soon find himself at the back of a lengthy queue for a starting place on the wing, something that does little to address the need for game time that a player of his mentality requires. This season he has made only 9 starts with a further 5 appearances from the bench and appears to be suffering for it. Anxious to please and reclaim a starting place, the number 17 appears to almost be trying too hard to impress, with wildly optimistic shooting and well intentioned but ultimately unsuccessful dribbling.

Unfortunately for Nani, the time appears to have come for him to seek pastures new. With a decent amount of his career still ahead of him and limited opportunities at United, the only way that I can see him flourishing is to make a move to a club that will give him the game time he deserves. More importantly, a move from Old Trafford will allow Nani to forge his own path in the eyes of a new club's fans, rather than being unfairly tarnished - whether intentionally or not -as a poor man's Ronaldo.