Manchester United and Nani have finally put an end to the speculation which has suggested the Portuguese winger could be on his way out of Old Trafford, with a huge five-year deal which David Moyes seems to be ecstatic about.
It’s a great bit of news for the club because for all of Nani’s inconsistency last season, he remains a very important midfielder for the Premier League champions as they look to retain their dominance in the new Moyes era.
However, the news of a new deal does have knock on effects and one of the most concerned individuals at the club will be youngster Wilfried Zaha who only moved to Old Trafford last January.
Zaha hasn’t featured prominently in Moyes’ plans so far this season and any doubts he has over whether he can break into the first team at United have just been increased by the news of Nani’s new deal.
It’s not a cloak and dagger situation because Zaha is not a naïve young man and wouldn’t have been expecting to simply waltz into the first team as soon as he moved up North following a loan spell at Crystal Palace.
In terms of his first team chances, not an awful lot has changed. He’s still in a position where he needs to work hard on the training pitch and make the most of any opportunity he’s handed when Moyes does give him the nod to play in the first team.
Nani has superior experience and is a more refined wide player so it’s only natural that he’ll be higher up the pecking order at Old Trafford, competing with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young for one of the two winger positions.
What the deal could mean is that Zaha may have to consider playing more football outside of United to try and increase his first team experience. He has said he does not want to be loaned out, but Nani's new deal and the fact he has not been used so far this season in the league will show that it is at least a possibility.
He’s one of the most talented English wingers to emerge from the last few years so he shouldn’t have a problem finding a Premier League side who would want him on loan over the second half of the season.
It also makes perfect sense for Manchester United and Moyes because it reduces the chance that he’ll start becoming unhappy at the club and will allow him to stay in good physical shape if United need to recall and use him quickly.
United invested £12 million into Zaha and they will want to protect that investment offering the youngster a chance to maintain the form he showed with Crystal Palace and if that means loaning him back to Ian Holloway’s side then there isn’t too much risk or harm involved.
Sooner or later Zaha will get a chance and then it’s down to him to make the most of it but any negative consequences for the 20-year-old mustn’t take light away from the fact Nani signing a new contract is very good news for the club.
How do you see Zaha’s season panning out?
image: © Tom Brogan