Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Nani is ruled out of Manchester United's upcoming Premier League clash against Aston Villa. The Portuguese international suffered a hamstring injury during United's Champions League trip to Braga.
Ferguson indicated the winger is likely to be sidelined for the best part of two weeks in his pre-match press conference (via Sky Sports): "Nani is out with a tight hamstring. It will be about 10 days."
Nani's injury comes at an uncertain time for the player. His season has been touched with controversy as contract negotiations continue to stall.
A disappointing start to the campaign has ensured Nani is unlikely to receive the £130,000 per week he desires.
Braga manager Jose Peseiro—who gave Nani his first team opportunity at Sporting Lisbon—suggested the winger needs more support from his manager (via The Independent).
It might be difficult to emotionally care for a senior player who openly brawls with his younger colleagues (via Metro).
At this stage in his career, Nani should be able to deal with the stress of poor form.
The 25-year-old has been a vital cog in United's success over recent years, but the emergence of Antonio Valencia seems to have culminated in a steady dip of quality.
Nani has started just four Premier League games this season. He has also come on three times as a substitute in the domestic championship. During these seven appearances, Nani has contributed one goal and one assist.
His other statistics are rather lacklustre. The winger has completed an average of 0.9 dribbles per match. He is clearly rattled at Old Trafford, and has been dispossessed an average of 1.9 times per game so far.
This lack of attacking prowess comes alongside Nani's inability to help out in defence. He has competed 0.4 tackles, 0.7 interceptions and 0.4 clearances on average this season.
It's worth noting his Champions League statistics are marginally better, although they remain disappointing.
Antonio Valencia is expected to start on United's right flank, returning to his favoured position after a stint in defensive against Braga.
The Red Devils could be compromised with a slight injury to Jonny Evans, although Ferguson remains hopeful the Northern Irishman can make the trip to Villa Park. Chris Smalling will be brought into defence if Evans is to join Nani on the injury table.
Perhaps Nani's injury is a blessing in disguise. Time to mull things over could provide the spark of life he desperately needs. That, or he'll happily watch his bank balance go up without the need to work.
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