The rise and rise of Luis Nani
A somewhat over-confident, but ultimately, multitalented footballer once described himself as “one of the top players in the world,” – yet such a view was not held by the Professional Footballers Association. They snubbed the man who currently has 18 Premier League assists to his name and nine goals. However, this man doesn’t just create or convert chances – he does more. And more.
Manchester United’s Luis Nani epitomises the modern winger. He epitomises everything that has gone right this season and epitomises the Red Devils’ future ambitions. There have been very few who have been able to match him this campaign – and so has he been, he has the statistics and the results to prove it. It is therefore understandable that many were left miffed at the failure to recognise him in the Player of the Year shortlist. In fairness to the PFA, he was shortlisted for Young Player of the Year anyway, but some feel it doesn’t quite do him justice.
Truth is, though, Nani doesn’t need personal accolades. To an extent, they are a measure of ones success – but success is certainly not something that will desert the winger in his career; and if they do go on and capture how ever many pieces of silverware this season, a good sized chunk of credit will go to the creative genius who hails from the Bairro.
In the last 12 months, United fans have witnessed evolution of a different kind – one that is perhaps more interesting than the findings in the Origin of Species. The transformation of the winger was unforeseeable, but not that anyone within Old Trafford is complaining; sure he has moments of frustrations, but he more than makes up for that. Consistency is hardly an issue from this man of all; the player whose future was hanging by the thinnest of threads not long ago. In 28 League appearances this term, he has scored/created 27 goals – a good grade in mathematics is hardly necessary to conclude just how effective the man from Cape Verde has been.
Nani is also unique to his fellow wingers in the sense that his perceived weaker foot, his left, means he remains a potent attacking threat wherever deployed. He is technically gifted and has matured enough so he can adjust to play on either side; on the left, he remains just as dangerous as an ‘inverted’ winger by cutting inside or delivering inswinging crosses.
What makes him so good is that his style perfectly compliments that of the club. His explosive pace goes well with his other strengths and something that can help him beat his man, latch onto long accurate deliveries from the central midfield and start and finish attacks on the break. He is no longer in Ronaldo’s shadow – he’s improved so much that he leaves others chasing his shadow – which is usually the poor defender left in his wake.
Decision making and his defensive duties have become less of a worry because that’s a side of his game that is improving steadily and he can potentially be even better than he is now in the next few years. Talent is something he has in abundance, and with him in United’s armoury, trophies will come in great volumes too.