Manchester United: Why Antonio Valencia Is the Bane of Nani's Professional Life

Alex NoonanContributor IIFebruary 28, 2012

For Nani, right is right.
For Nani, right is right.Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Last season at Manchester United was Nani's season. Dimitar Berbatov may have been the joint top scorer in the league but the majority of the praise was being heaped on the man from Portugal as he finally stepped up from bit part player to first team regular.

Nani made the right wing slot his own and a regular supply of assists and goals followed much to the benefit of the club. This season however, Nani's form has dipped to the levels of pre-2010/11 and in my opinion this is down to one simple reason.

Antonio Valencia.

It can be surely no coincidence that Nani enjoyed his best season in a Manchester United jersey at the time when Valencia was ruled out for many months with an ankle injury. With no direct competition Nani had the chance to cement himself in the starting 11 every week and he did it in an impressive fashion, terrorising left backs up and down the league.

For the first six months of the season, Nani was in the form of his career. In the run in the league conclusion however he was a periphery figure as the return of Valencia meant Nani was shunted to the left and no matter how capable his left foot may or may not be, he just isn't comfortable on the left wing and his performances prove it.

This season started well for Nani, as a recurrence of Valencia's ankle trouble kept him out of the team giving him his preferred spot back but in a repeat of last season once the Ecuadorian returned Nani's form again dropped.

Valencia has outshone Nani in every department this season and his willingness to help out defensively puts Nani even further in the shade, from which he is unlikely to emerge whilst the former Wigan winger is fit.