Five total appearances. 319 minutes played. Zero goals. Zero assists. And of course a brand new, freshly-signed five-year contract with Manchester United.
These are the numbers behind Nani, the divisive winger that is of keen interest to Juventus once again this term, according to Sky Sport Italia. The reigning Italian champions have been paired with the Portugal international before as they were heavily linked with a move for his services over the course of last season and this summer, and now look to have reignited the desire to bring him to Turin.
And so, the same question remains that had originally been confronted then – why?
Nani had seemingly been set for a United exit prior to being offered a new deal, either via a cut-rate transfer to a club of diminished stature or on a Bosman free next summer when his old terms expired. Yet the famed outfit instead saw fit to extend the 27-year-old’s time at Old Trafford just weeks into the current campaign under new manager David Moyes, placing a healthy amount of faith in a player that has struggled mightily with injuries and consistency over the past two terms.
Now, more than two months after that vote of confidence was signed on September 5, the situation isn’t much different for Nani in Manchester.
For Juventus, the signs are indeed there to steer clear of the former Sporting CP man, but they aren’t being heeded. Nani hasn’t produced at a solid clip since the 2010-11 campaign, arguably his finest with the Red Devils; and while he still certainly has plenty of ability left, a player that can’t put it to use steadily isn’t a wise investment, especially considering his hefty wage demands had proven to be a prior stumbling block at United.
As Antonio Conte continues to lead the Scudetto holders forward in hopes of taking domestic success to the European level, reinforcements that offer efficiency and reliability will be needed, something that Nani certainly cannot guarantee.
Tactically, the Cape Verde-born winger wouldn’t fit in the Italian’s 3-5-2 system either, at least effectively, considering the amount of defensive work that is required of the wide men in Conte’s setup. Even if he could contribute going forward for Juventus, he would undoubtedly be a liability at the back, having spent his career in offensive roles and not possessing the full skill set necessary to excel in the Bianconeri’s style of play.
To boot, Nani having agreed a new long-term deal with United will only see his price increase despite his distinct lack of output, as his current employers will no longer be under pressure to press through a sale for the sake of receiving any compensation for his departure.
So, with United not having done the most prudent thing in prolonging the Portuguese’s stay in Manchester, why should Juventus be so eager to fix Moyes’ mistake?
A club resurrected in the wake of Calciopoli on the merits of astute deals that filled needs without needlessly spending money, the Old Lady should look elsewhere to maintain this successful blueprint while strengthening the squad. Juventus should let Manchester United have Nani for the five years of faith placed in him, not seize on the Premier League giants’ gaffe with one of their own.