Debate: Nani blows hot and cold more times than Fergie’s hairdryer, but he’s still capable of something special

By Chris Bailey

Somewhere on a Mancunian training ground, a Portuguese enigma is facing the biggest challenge of his career.

Rumour and speculation is rife over his Old Trafford future – Manchester United fans divided on whether the mercurial winger can finally iron out the kinks to his inconsistent game.

His talent has never been doubted, and certainly not his self-belief.

But there’s something so incredibly frustrating about the player which compels you to believe he is better suited to sunnier climes.

The year is 2006. With one wink to the touchline at the World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo turned the whole of England – including a red-carded Wayne Rooney – against him.

And as we fast forward seven years, Luis Nani finds himself at a very similar crossroads.

He is five years older than his compatriot was – too late in his development to dream about becoming the world’s best.

But he has that spark. That breathless skill in his locker to confound full-backs and fans alike, following a long line of Red Devils legends who have hugged the Old Trafford touchline.

Ashley Young and the terribly out-of-form Antonio Valencia cannot produce the magic Nani is capable of – even if they have the canny habit of producing solid performances.

Just think – at the top of his game, weaving balls to Rooney and Robin van Persie between mesmerised defences, there would be no other frontline quite as dynamic.

However, there is the feeling that Nani now stands on the doorstep of last-chance saloon.

A hamstring injury has dogged a season which started with rumours of the 26-year-old’s imminent departure to Zenit St Petersburg.

Now fully fit and with a thirst for first-team football, the only person that holds Nani back is himself.

Yes, this is not his first poor campaign since his arrival in 2007 – the winger blows more hot and cold than Fergie’s hairdryer.

But I know who I’d bank on to create something out of nothing.

And this nothing season could just as well turn into something special if – and it’s a big if – he produces the outrageous ability he has teased the Old Trafford faithful with in the past.

Image courtesy of Gordon Flood, via Wikipaedia Commons, with thanks.

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