Manchester United: Can Nani Become As Good As Cristiano Ronaldo?

Jeff HarbertSenior Writer IAugust 12, 2008

Manchester United winger Luis Nani enjoyed an impressive debut season at Old Trafford last year, scoring four goals and adding 11 assists. But what was even more impressive was the number of appearances Nani managed to rack up over the course of the season.

Nani was expected to play a very small role in United’s pursuit of silverware last season, playing every now and then to provide veteran Ryan Giggs with a rest. But the former Sporting Lisbon winger managed to become a regular in Ferguson’s side and finished the season with 39 appearances to his name.

He made big contributions in the Premier League and the Champions League, as well as the FA Cup. Nani’s sheer pace and ability to beat defenders on the wing made him a useful member to United’s squad as they chased an unprecedented treble.

His best performance of the season was arguably the fifth round FA Cup tie against Arsenal, where he and his teammates ran riot and routed their rivals 4-0. Nani provided an assist and even managed to grab a goal and was a constant menace to Arsenal’s defense.

The world got another glimpse of Nani last Sunday, as he started for United against Portsmouth in the Community Shield. The United number 17 always looked dangerous with the ball and was a constant thorn in Harry Redknapp’s side.

The United winger, whose full name is Luis Carlos Almeida de Cunha Nani, also drew praise from his manager—who feels the Portuguese player will improve even more this season.

Sir Alex also expects Nani to show more mature performances this season. Nani saw red during United’s final home game against West Ham last season, for head butting defender Lucas Neill.

"Nani has gone through the same process as all the young players and you are looking for that jump up in performance level from the first season," said Ferguson. "His maturity should be better as well, which is important."

"He is a very young 20. That immaturity showed itself against West Ham at the end of the season. That has cost us because he is missing for the first two games. But when he develops that he will be an outstanding talent. He has courage and speed, can play with both feet and does not melt in big atmospheres."

Nani showed signs against Portsmouth of what is to come from him this season, once he returns from suspension. The winger ripped through Portsmouth’s defense at every chance—and left Glen Johnson and Sol Campbell in his dust on more than one occasion.

But exactly how good will Nani become? A lot can be expected from the 21-year-old after a promising start to his Manchester United career and some have even deemed Nani as the "New Ronaldo."

But the question is, will he ever become as good as Ronaldo?