Sir Alex Ferguson will not allow Portuguese misfit Nani to leave the club in the January transfer window, after denying that Manchester United is seeking to offload the £ 17 million former Sporting Lisbon winger. Nani, who has not played in for United in close to a month, is now Ferguson’s fifth choice winger after a series of erratic performances.
Nani’s form, together with the rise of Gabriel Obertan and Park Ji-Sung’s return to fitness, means that the Portuguese winger is unlikely to find many minutes at Old Trafford in the near future.
“Some big clubs have been mentioned for Nani, like Milan and Benfica, but there has been no contact made with us – and we wouldn’t entertain selling him anyway,” said Ferguson
“He is only 23. If someone came in for Nani in January we would tell him that he is going absolutely nowhere.”
Nani, who has made 85 appearances and scored 12 goals for United, has previously spoken to the media about his frustration at not progressing at Old Trafford. This in the season following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid – Nani’s big opening has become a huge anti-climax. Instead, the winger opted for a tactic that has rarely worked for players under Ferguson.
“He’s a young boy and he wants to play – and he might get a chance against Spurs in the Carling Cup this week.”
“He has suffered because Valencia’s form has been excellent and because Obertan has emerged as an interesting player.
“It is no criticism of Nani, but the way things have developed in the last few weeks have gone against him. I have spoken to him and told him that he must take his chance when it comes along,” Ferguson added.
While Ferguson has previously shown loyalty to players criticised by both the fans and the media, Nani has provided little tangible evidence that he is progressing at United. Patience – even Ferguson’s – is wearing thin with a player who at his best is frustrating and worst a liability.
Moreover, Gabriel Obertan’s superb form since making his début against Barnsley in the Carling Cup a month ago has proffered Ferguson with an exciting new option on the left side of United’s attack. With Antonio Valencia superb against Portsmouth on Saturday, Ryan Giggs majestic all season long and workaholic Park now fit, Ferguson has little need for the Cape Verde-born flyer.
Frenchman Obertan, a £3 million capture from Bordeaux this summer, was a surprise purchase by Ferguson. But the French under-21 international has surpassed all early expectations, despite being laid-up with a spinal injury for the first four months of the season. The injury, which might explain the player’s lack of progression under Laurent Blanc’s tutelage at Bordeaux, was only discovered when the forward arrived at Old Trafford. At 16, Obertan was one of the very best in the world, according to Ferguson.
Nani must now work for his opportunity at Old Trafford – a trait that sadly seems lacking in the player – if he is to survive into a fourth season at the club. Indeed, Ferguson has little wish to cut squad numbers in the middle of the season but he is hardly likely to reduce the player’s price by slapping a ‘for sale’ sign on Nani’s forehead either.