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Nani needs to prove himself – but at United or elsewhere?

Portugal coach Paulo Bento has told the tricky winger to get back to his best form – but he may well need to leave Old Trafford to do so.

Despite winning the Premier League last season, Manchester United’s wingers did not cover themselves in glory – as all recognised widemen had seasons to forget.

Antonio Valencia went from the club’s most consistently performer to their most consistently below par player, while Ashley Young had an injury plagued campaign. Danny Welbeck and Shinji Kagawa were both deployed wide at times, despite preferring to play through the middle – largely as a result of the ineffectiveness of the traditional wingers.

Nani’s season was another in which he failed to live up to his monumental potential. The Portugal international, once touted as Cristiano Ronaldo’s replacement at Old Trafford, frustrated the club’s fans with a lack of quality delivery and the loss of possession on too many occasions.

The winger’s place in his international team is under threat too, with national coach Paulo Bento eager to see Nani back to his best.

"He will now have to put in a bit of effort to recover what was once his - the role of playing nearly every time," Bento told a press conference.

"That did not happen in the last few matches. He needs to do his bit and then we will see what we will do.

"He has had to cope with Vieirinha who did extremely well in our recent matches against Azerbaijan, Israel, Russia and Croatia.

"We still called him in for the Netherlands match because he has great quality and potential."

Where Nani’s club future lies remains up in the air. With David Moyes taking over at the club, it could be a new start for the player, as the Scot assesses each member of his newly inherited squad ahead of the new season. If he is given a run of games in the side to prove himself, there is no reason that Nani can’t play a significant role in United’s title defence.

However, with only one year left on his contract at the club, it may well be time for both parties to cut their losses. Nani would most likely relish a new challenge, whether it be at another Premier League club or abroad, will United have signed Wilfried Zaha.

With Nani being substituted after 29 minutes of United’s 1-1 draw against AIK, Moyes and the club need to make a decision regarding the player’s future.

image: © gordonflood.com

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