Manchester United: How do you solve a problem like Nani?
We'll start with reasons to sell. The obvious reason is his inconsistency. Nani has always had the potential and raw talent. Since he arrived Nani could always run fast, dribble well, beat players and shoot from long range, but quite often his end product has been frustratingly bad. In the last few seasons, Nani has improved, but he continues to disappoint the fans and also his team-mates.Off the field he's bad-mouthed the manager, punched a team-mate and on the field will often go for a shot rather than pass to someone in a better position. There is a perception that he is a selfish player. Can the team really benefit by keeping such a player as part of the squad?
Despite his problems, however, Nani has been able to produce great performances and not just against weaker opponents. He has the confidence to take on full backs and the talent to beat them. At 26 he has a good amount of experience and also has many good years left in him. He has the flexibility to play either side of the pitch and can provide something different from Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young.Speaking of the other wingers, I've said before that their form has been disappointing. Seeing Sir Alex Ferguson introduce the diamond formation to United's midfield hasn't been as dramatic due to the indifferent form, as well as their injuries, of the wide players in the squad.
Ashley Young plays well in patches. He can have dull periods during a game, but he can also spark into life and create chances for team-mates and himself.Antonio Valencia has been a fantastic player. When he arrived, he was consistent, provided good, accurate crosses and possessed great speed. Even after his horrific injury against Rangers, he recovered quickly and maintained his form. Last season he impressed both the fans and team-mates by winning the Manchester United fans' and players' player of the year award. But this season he has been disappointing. He hasn't been beating full backs like he did before, he's overhitting crosses and skewing shots. He was dropped to the bench against Liverpool and, with Nani back, this might occur more often unless he picks up his game.
The fact is Manchester United still need Nani. He's younger than Young and Valencia. He's also got more confidence in taking on defenders. He can provide both goals, and assists, and makes opposing full backs more reluctant to venture forward. When he's on top of his game, he's probably the best winger in the squad. However, over a whole season, he isn't. There's the argument that he has had enough time and it's time to give up on the project.
But unless United manage to sign Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo, there is a lack of match-winning, consistent wide players with experience - particularly Premier League experience. There's talk of Wilfried Zaha or maybe James Rodriguez coming in, but these are two young players, one who hasn't played higher than the Championship and another who has only played 50-odd games in the Portuguese top flight - around the same as Nani. Could they become better than Nani? There's no reason why not. But is it worth ditching Nani and starting again on another young winger?Despite his flaws, Nani is a talented player that can bring something extra to United. Together with the inconsistency of his fellow wingmen it's hard to see Manchester United selling a player who has Premier League experience, is settled in the team and has his best years still ahead of him. Any replacement, you'd imagine, would certainly be lacking experience and could take years to settle and show true potential.
So unless Manchester United can bring back Cristiano Ronaldo, then I don't see the benefit in selling Nani and would like to see him stay - at least for the near future.
Calling all Manchester United fans: Do you agree with Soohwan? Would you like to see Nani remain at Old Trafford or do you believe he has blown his chance at the Theatre of Dreams? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.