Moyes, United show faith in Nani

Posted by Musa Okwonga

After a week, the news is still slightly surprising. Nani, the wildly gifted yet wildly frustrating winger, signed a new five-year contract at Manchester United. After a summer when the Portugal forward received several offers from leading clubs in Europe, he revealed that it was his new manager, David Moyes, who convinced him to remain at Old Trafford.

The length of the deal represents an extremely strong vote of confidence in a player long rumoured to be on his way out. It also confirms Moyes' faith in the player, first seen when he included Nani ahead of Shinji Kagawa on the bench at Anfield: then, he considered Nani a player more likely to provide a match-winning moment.

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Nani's retention, given the very impressive preseason form of Wilfried Zaha, leads to further questions. Since Nani's form is best when he is given a regular run of games, will we see him and one other winger form part of Moyes' regular starting XI? If so, it is unlikely in the long term that Ashley Young will be that man. The England international has looked devoid of self-belief since the Euro 2012 tournament, on many occasions lacking the courage so evident in his promising early outings at Old Trafford.

The cynic would say that tying Nani to a long-term contract is not a statement that he will be regular, but rather a piece of good business. Since he is still only 26, it allows Manchester United to sell him after a season or two if his new lease on life doesn't work out, at a value that doesn't risk being diminished by a fast-expiring contract. Having seen Nani's excellent work against Real Madrid in the Champions League before his unfortunate red card last season, Moyes apparently feels his talents will be of great use in continental competition.

At the very least, given the clubs that reportedly came in for Nani -- Monaco and Juventus among them -- it seems worth giving him at least another year in Manchester United's colours.


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