Yesterday Manchester United conceded defeat in their attempts to sign Brazilian starlet Lucas Moura, after PSG confirmed they had agreed a deal to sign him in January.
Whilst some fans were annoyed that United had yet again failed to secure a transfer target, there is also a large section of fans that are relieved that PSG pipped us to Moura’s signature.
Although United could boast of being able to spend what they pleased in the past, this is a time of austerity at Old Trafford, a time where paying £6m in agent’s fees is baulked at and ultimately shied away from.
We may regret missing out on Moura in the future, it won’t be the first time, but as things currently stand I am amongst the large selection of fans that don’t mind because it was largely believed that had the Brazilian found a home at Old Trafford, one of our current residents would have had to move on.
That resident being Nani and his new place of residence potentially being the Santiago Bernabeu.
At the start of last month we implored the club to tie Nani down to a long term contract, and it was an idea you the readers largely agreed with. His impressive showings over the past 2 seasons, as well as his display in the Euros was all the confirmation needed to ascertain that Nani could hack it in the upper echelons of world football.
But if anyone is under any illusions about Nani’s quality, rewatch last night’s game against arguably the greatest team in the world, and join me as I say that the club should work to ensure Nani remains at Old Trafford for as long as possible.
I don’t need to tell you that playing against Barcelona isn’t an easy proposition. We have been mauled by them in two Champions League finals and whilst they were beaten to the Spanish title by Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid, I don’t think there is anyone that will be writing them off.
Last night Barcelona were as impressive as ever, but whilst Messi, Iniesta and co shone United more than held their own and Nani was arguable at the forefront of this.
This isn’t the first time Nani has impressed against the Catalan team, he opened United’s scoring against them last summer and in the 2011 Champions League final, despite having just a cameo appearance , I don’t think I’m alone in saying our attacks gained a bit more verve when he came on and perhaps he should have been introduced earlier.
Yesterday it would be fair to say that Nani was our biggest attacking threat, looking to take the game to Barcelona whenever possible.
As stated previously, playing Barca isn’t easy. Off the ball they hound you, forcing errors, whilst in possession they will tire you out with their ‘Tiki Taka’ passing. A lot of it is mental too, coming up against the best team in the world must be draining and you often see players mess up things that they normally get right 95% of the time.
But for some reason Nani doesn’t get flustered by Barcelona.
Even in the tightest of situations he is able to keep the ball. Being technically sound is one of the keys to competing against Barcelona, your first touch for example has to be spot on because they will be closing you down instantly. The ability to work under pressure is also key for the same reason, yet Nani is capable of both and displayed this yesterday. It was his smart and intricate play in the box that won the first half penalty that Wayne Rooney missed
Kagawa has been lauded for showing ingenuity in the final third, bolstered by actually having the ability to pull of the things he envisions, but I feel sometimes we don’t appreciate Nani’s ability to do the same.
There are still questions over his consistency and as he approaches his 26th birthday, this is something he should be sorting out but I feel that if he is given a bit more responsibility, and trusted by Sir Alex in the bigger games, we will see the best of the Portuguese winger.
In regards to his consistency you also have to factor into the equation the kind of player Nani is, he will try to beat 3 men and crack off a shot, he could cut this out and become functional like Valencia but that would mean he isn’t the player that we want him to be (few players would have the audacity the juggle the ball over 3 Barca players like he did yesterday).
Back to the matter at hand, his contract. If Nani is asking for 12ok a week, I don’t think you will find many United fans that feel he shouldn’t be paid this. He is clearly one of our best players and even if you look at it comparatively, with Rooney on £200k+ a week, and Lucas Moura apparently being paid €250k a week, he is worth the money.
Games like last night’s are as much about fitness as they are to gauge the gap between us and our rivals. Whilst there is still a sizeable gap between us and Barca, players like Nani continue to help us close the gap. Nani clearly has the ability to be a world beater, he isn’t far off it, so paying an astronomical fee as well as crazy wages and agent fees for a player that has potential but is far from realising it at the expense of one on the cusp of realising his would be folly.
Getting Nani’s contract sorted is still one of our most pressing pieces of business this summer, and the longer it runs the more there is a chance that it affects his efforts on field. Missing out on Moura could very well be remedied by Nani reaching the levels we know he can, we should therefore try and cultivate the best environment for him to do so, starting with a new contract.