Just over four years ago, in the Community Shield match against Chelsea at Wembley, Manchester United winger Nani controlled Darren Fletcher’s arching, cross-field pass, pushed off Blues’ right-back Branislav Ivanovic and took a couple quick steps inside before hammering a low, hard drive inside Petr Cech’s far post with his right foot.
It was the sort of moment the Portugal international, when at his best, is capable of offering, and it was exactly what United could have done with against Chelsea on Monday.
As it happened, the Red Devils dominated long spells of possession against their London guests at Old Trafford but only tested Cech on three occasions—never seriously. Continually working the ball out wide from where to launch an attack, the United wingers and full-backs seemed only able to swing crosses of varying accuracy into the box.
Nani, and his penchant for cutting inside and having a go from distance, would have added a much-needed element to the United buildup, and given where much of the match was played, he would have almost certainly seen significant time on the ball.
Of course, the 26-year-old was absent with a groin injury and a date has yet to be set for his United return. If he ever does return.
On Monday The Sun reported the reigning Premier League champions had slapped a €13 million valuation on Nani, for whom they paid nearly twice that amount back in 2007.
Roma, in particular, are an interesting case.
Having recently cashed in on both defender Marquinhos and forward Pablo Osvaldo (their sales netted the club more than €50 million), there has also been speculation attacker Erik Lamela could be off to Tottenham Hotspur for about £30 million, per Goal.
The 21-year-old’s exit would leave a major hole in the capital side’s attacking options, and at only €13 million, Nani would represent a relatively low-risk move for Rudi Garcia’s outfit.
Garcia, who joined the Giallorossi after a successful five years at Lille, fancies a 4-3-3 formation that would suit Nani—who could operate down either flank—to a tee. He already plays on the right of such a system with Portugal, and with the World Cup less than 10 months away, he will no doubt be desperate for regular, first-team football in order to protect his place in the national side.
Roma could offer him that, and if he fit, he could offer them a quick-hit attacking threat from wide areas.
That said, it’s not like United couldn’t make use of him as well, but with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young both vying for minutes and Danny Welbeck being used on the left of the attack, it’s not entirely clear where Nani sits in manager David Moyes’ depth chart.
But you’d think he’d at least be worth keeping hold of for the time being.
Moyes has yet to make a meaningful summer signing since replacing Sir Alex Ferguson as manager and really can’t afford to pass up on options he hasn’t had the chance to quantify.