Does Nani have a future at Manchester United?

Whether Nani can make the grade at Manchester United is a debate that seems to have been rumbling on for years.

The player moved from Sporting Lisbon to Old Trafford back in the summer of 2007. Now almost eight years later, with the man back playing for Sporting, it’s up for discussion once again.

Louis Van Gaal allowed the winger to go back to Portugal on loan last summer as part of the deal which saw United purchase Marcos Rojo. With Adnan Januzaj blossoming and Angel Di Maria coming in, it seemed Nani’s struggle to cement a place for himself at the Theatre of Dreams had finally got the better of him.

The loan spell though, has been a big success. The return to the Primeira Liga seven years after leaving has brought out the best in Nani.

His form over the course of the season so far has certainly caught the eye and will doubtless have been reported in detail to the manager at his parent club.

The likelihood is that Van Gaal intended to put him in the shop window, hoping the Portuguese outfit would wish to make it permanent or in the very least, that other suitors would be attracted.

The word from Lisbon however, is that Sporting cannot afford the player’s wages and are therefore unable make an approach.

With the Portuguese contracted until 2018, United will need to find another buyer. The alternatives are to either loan him elsewhere for next season or allow him to fight for a place in Van Gaal’s team.

The wideman has scored ten times over the course of his loan spell and a goal threat like this from midfield is surely something that the Van Gaal would welcome.

Over his Premier League career so far though, Nani has been infuriatingly inconsistent and this is something the Dutch boss would not tolerate.

As much as the Cape Verde born man is a match-winner, he can also disappear from games when the going gets tough.

Nani is now 28 and maybe the season away from Manchester has given him focus.

Scottish wonderkid Ryan Gauld, also at Sporting, has recently been quoted praising his team-mate for his guidance. Perhaps this new found maturity would make a difference but more likely, is that the winger has run out of chances to prove his credentials at a top Premier League side.

Nani has performed well in the Premiership before.

He virtually carried United for part of the 2011-12 campaign and could point to a number of other standout performances during the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

The problem is that the good days are just spread a little too thinly and if Van Gaal thought him capable of addressing this, then he would never have sanctioned the loan to begin with.

Maybe now with a season in England under his belt, the manager will re-evaluate but chances are he is likely to be busy in the transfer market and will have alternatives in mind.

Even if United were not to strengthen in wide areas, chances for the Portuguese trickster would still be limited.

The Red Devils often line up without traditional wingers these days meaning competition for places is fiercer than ever.

Di Maria, Januzaj, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are already vying for the roles Nani would be targeting.

Given his age and time remaining on his contract, the most suitable course of action for all parties would appear to be that the player finally moves on. He will need to continue his current good form until the end of the season to have any chance of convincing Van Gaal otherwise.