With speculation that Manchester United’s Nani looks likely to be heading for the Old Trafford exit, the rumour mill has started on where the player will end up. The Portuguese winger has struggled to hold down a regular place in Manchester United’s first team this season with Alex Ferguson opting to use Antonio Valencia on the right wing. With the return of Ashley Young from injury this has further limited the player’s involvement with the starting eleven.
In the summer Nani had been holding talks about extending his contract beyond June 2014 but negotiations broke down due to the winger’s reported excessive wage demands. There have been rumblings of trouble between Manchester United and Nani for some time but it had been thought that it was the club who were looking to sell him rather than meet what they decided were excessive demands on a new contract.
The question appears to have moved on to which club Nani will end up at. It is unlikely that Manchester United would sell him to a Premier League rival so the probability is that he will end up in either Spain or Italy. The major powers in these two leagues need to be able to meet his salary demands and Manchester United’s asking price. There have been rumours of Italian sides Juventus and AC Milan showing interest but there simply isn't as much money floating around Serie A as there has been previously. For an Italian club to pay around £15m-£20m and a wage of over £100,000 per week just doesn't seem to be likely.
There were rumours in August that Spanish giants Real Madrid were showing interest in the player. The Daily Mail reported that during the summer transfer window the Nani situation was being monitored by the La Liga champions as Manchester United refused to meet his wage demands. The club had been reported to have been keeping an eye on how the Portuguese international’s negotiations were progressing.
There is also the relationship that his agent Jorge Mendes has with Real Madrid. Mendes currently has several Real Madrid players on his books and, most importantly manager, Jose Mourinho. The “super agent” was heavily involved in taking Manchester United’s ex superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to the Bernabeu in 2009 for a world record €80m. With Mendes’ close ties with Real Madrid the possibility is that he could engineer a deal for Nani to join Ronaldo in the Spanish capital.
The club would be able finance the £120,000 a week salary that he has been reportedly been asking for in his contract talks with Manchester United. Real Madrid wouldn't normally offer a player who may not be an automatic first choice such a high wage but the transfer would be high profile with him moving from Sir Alex Ferguson's side and sponsors have been known to help in the past with the idea they'll get greater publicity. In a way, Nani would still be playing for the same sponsor. Bwin signed a deal with Manchester United back in August and has been a long time sponsor for Real Madrid. After a merger between bwin and another betting giant apparently went south last year, the company went a different direction and started making additional partnerships in football.
Also the likelihood is that Manchester United would be willing to work with Real Madrid on a deal like they have done so in the past. In recent years Manchester United have sold David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ronaldo to the Spanish side.
There have been reports that Nani had dropped Mendes as his agent but the player has angrily denied this recently and stated that they are still very close. Nani went on record to say that he is and will always be his representative, quoted by Calciomercato as saying "I want to know the origin and the reason for such lies. Jorge Mendes was, is and will always be my manager. So I do not understand why some people take the trouble to invent these things."
Nani at his best would bring a benefit to any team and Real Madrid are no exception to this. He's a superior player to Angel De Maria and the new impetus in his career could see the winger move on to greater things and fulfill his ambition of becoming one of the world's best players.
Whilst Real Madrid isn't the first club to spring to mind when thinking about Nani's future it's certainly a viable destination and Jorge Mendes will be well aware of that.
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