Manchester United Transfer Speculation: Possible Summer Destinations for Nani
Just prior to the turn of the year, Sir Alex Ferguson was asked during a media briefing if Nani had a future at Manchester United (via the club's official website). The manager's swift, unequivocal response?
"Yes. Absolutely. Why would I want to let him go?"
There had been speculation over a possible January departure for the Portuguese winger prior to that point, but Ferguson all but killed off any further rumors.
The Scotsman spoke highly of Nani that day, indicating chief executive David Gill was negotiating a contract extension with the winger's representatives and concluded "we won’t be letting him go."
There is little reason to doubt Ferguson's intentions, especially if Nani reiterates his usefulness to Man United with a productive second half to the season.
Things can change in football, though, and should Ferguson's plans for Nani alter, there are certain to be clubs interested in signing a talented, if slightly inconsistent performer.
Here are five such possible clubs who could benefit from adding Nani and might well be interested if he was available, as well as destinations where Nani would be happy to ply his trade.
Inter Milan did not have the best experience when previously involved with a skillful, much-touted former Sporting Lisbon player.
Ricardo Quaresma was a bust in Italy, as he has been mostly elsewhere in his career.
Nani, though, is a different prospect—one that might tempt Inter to try their luck with a Portugal international again.
Club president Massimo Moratti is a tad more fiscally conservative these days. Yet despite the reasonable cost a bid for Nani might incur, the capital club could do with the addition of such a talent.
The ongoing saga of Wesley Sneijder's future is going to end in the Dutchman's departure sooner or later. Nani is no direct replacement, but he would add some needed attacking sparkle to their ranks.
Whether he would be the right fit for Inter boss Andrea Stramaccioni's plans for his team is no certainty. But few players out there possess the skill and daring the Portuguese winger is capable of summoning—attributes that would benefit almost any club if utilized suitably.
Italian football would be a change of pace in many respects for Nani. But despite Serie A's diminished allure, it remains a league worthy of his talents.
Currently topping the Bundesliga and into the knockout stages of the Champions League, Bayern Munich are hardly wanting for good attacking midfielders. They possess an array of talent in these positions that is the envy of most European clubs.
Bayern will always be on the hunt for players that can help them achieve superiority in a perennially competitive domestic division, as well as in Europe too.
Nani is someone who fits that bill. Bayern may be interested in finding a replacement, or at least added competition, for a couple of aging stars, so bidding for him is a possibility.
Franck Ribery will be 30 in April and Arjen Robben 29 later this month. They could feasibly have years ahead of them, but Bayern might be looking to bring in a similarly talented younger model.
Ribery is enjoying a fine campaign right now, but Robben has had more injury problems.
The Dutchman is a high-quality player not easily dismissed. But Bayern might be tempted to replace him with a younger, less injury-prone equivalent like Nani.
Despite the outrage caused by the Zenit St Petersburg fan group Landscrona calling for a distinct composition of the team's roster, some of Europe's premier talent will continue to go to Russian football teams.
The money to lure them is a primary reason, but with more additions of such players, the country's competitiveness in continental competition is only going to increase.
There has been no reported specific interest in Nani from Russian clubs. Should he become available, though, it would not be surprising to see one or two registering their interest.
For Nani, it would be a case of weighing up the attractive financial prospects of a move east against the substantial cultural adjustments he would need to make.
Any bid from Tottenham Hotspur would depend on what is happening in relation to Gareth Bale.
If the Welshman is sold, it is likely to be for a hefty fee, leaving Andre Villas-Boas with money to spend and a replacement needed out wide.
Nani is predominantly right-footed, so he would not be a direct replacement for the left-sided Bale (though he can operate from that flank if needed).
They would get is a winger well-versed in Premier League football who thrives on running at and taking the game to opposition players—definitely what Tottenham would need in the event of Bale's departure.
For Nani to join Spurs, they would likely have to be back in the Champions League, but the chance to play for a Portuguese coach with aspirations that appeal to his own sense of ambition might be enough to sway him (that and big wages).
Like Tottenham, Atletico Madrid might well have some substantial cash to spend this summer.
The almost inevitable sale of Radamel Falcao will leave them needing to restore some talent to their ranks should they wish to continue the progress made under Diego Simeone.
Atletico might not even be in for a winger, but these circumstances might make them appealing to Nani.
A chance to return to the warmer, more familiar Iberian climate would not hurt, either. But if Nani is interested in going to Spain, then it's safe to assume Barcelona don't need him.
Real Madrid's interest probably lies elsewhere (see previous slide), and besides, they have players of similar talents. One such player is Cristiano Ronaldo, whose has been living in Nani's shadow for a while.
A move to their perennially less-successful city neighbors Atletico might not be particularly conducive in this regard. However, it would offer Nani the chance to succeed on his own terms at a club who are currently in their best state in quite some time.