Football is littered with examples of wasted potential. For every Cristiano Ronaldo , there is a Ricardo Quaresma. For each player that has gone from being a young prodigy to one of the best ever like Lionel Messi, there is someone like Bojan who was earmarked for greatness but lost his way. Nothing excites fans more than seeing a youngster giving it a go and making his name in the upper echelons of the football world. Similarly, nothing tops the disappointment of watching a player with huge potential fighting against the dying of light in a bid to save his career.
Portugal and Manchester United winger Nani’s career has been one such story of wasted potential. Having arrived in 2007 for a fee worth €25.5 million, big things were expected of the then-21-year-old winger, who had been hyped as a Cristiano Ronaldo esque player, and seemed destined for great things. The first few years were fruitful, and it seemed Nani would go on to match the achievements of his illustrious compatriot in a United shirt.
Even after Ronaldo left for Real in 2009, Nani stepped up to the plate and was one of the best players in the United shirt next season.
Fast forward five years, and the comparisons to Ronaldo couldn’t be more contrasting. While the 30-year-old is easily one of the best ever in the game, Nani has become an unwanted figure at United and spent the last season on loan away at his former club Sporting CP. He features nowhere in Louis Van Gaal’s plans for next season.
Therefore, when news broke out in Turkey that his move to Fenerbahce was imminent, the reactions in Manchester United’s quarters was one of indifference and disappointment. The Turkish club had released a statement that the 29-year-old will arrive in Turkey at 20:00 PM local time and undergo a medical prior to his impending transfer. The deal , reportedly worth £4.25 million, is a far cry from the £60 million quoted by Sir Alex to Chelsea in his heady days.
Nani’s agent had reportedly been negotiating the move for quite some time, and a formal announcement of the transfer is expected in the next few hours. Nani joins the exodus at Red Devils , which has already seen Ben Amos , Tom Cleverly among others leave the club , with several more like Robin Van Persie and Johnny Evans expected to follow suit.
Meanwhile, the Old Trafford bids farewell to a player in the form of Nani who was once expected to be the flag bearer of a generation of United players. For Nani’s part, he can look back at his time with the Red Devils and regret his spectacular fall from prominence which has turned him from one of the most promising wingers in the world to a spectre of his former self. His story is a proof that talent can get you only so far.