Manchester United coach and BBC World Cup pundit and commentator Phil Neville spoke about Portugal’s Luis Nani on Sunday night as the side earned a 2-2 draw against the United States of America in Manaus, keeping them in the tournament until their final match with Ghana on Thursday. Neville stated that he believed Nani had everything in his locker to become a star and he even compared him to former United star Cristiano Ronaldo, which incidentally was the type of player he was tipped to become after Ronaldo’s Real Madrid exit in the summer of 2009.
Nani started off the scoring in the group stage match, finding the net after a defensive error inside the fifth minute of the match, his 15th goal for his country and the third fastest Portuguese goal in the World Cup. Jermaine Jones drew level on the 64th minute, before Clint Dempsey scored what would have been the winner for the USA with nine minutes remaining. Silvestre Varela scored inside the fifth minute of added time to earn a point and keep Portugal in this summers FIFA World Cup, with them needing no less than a victory against Ghana on Thursday. Speaking on the BBC’s coverage of the match, Neville said:
“If you see the qualities of Ronaldo, Nani has got all those, he’s got speed, he’s got strength, he’s got skill.
“It’s just pulling it all together in one go. We’ve probably not see best of Nani in the Premier League for 90 mins or in a sustained period of time.”
The presenter of the BBC’s coverage, Gary Lineker, said “Is it something between the ears?”, meaning what was stopping Nani fro fulfilling his potential. To which Neville replied:
“I think that’s what’s missing, he has all the attributes physically, and putting it together at big moments. I think he compares himself to the same standards to Ronaldo but he’s nowhere (near) reached those levels yet.”
You have to agree with Neville’s thoughts though. Nani is a flair player and when he was signed by United back in the summer of 2007, he did show all the signs of that. He was a player that could change the game and score a few world class goals. When Ronaldo left in the summer of 2009, it was thought Nani could be the player to replace him, something which we are still waiting for. The winger did surprise me with his goal, but he did also show the inconsistencies he has continued to show at club level, so I really do not think this is him turning a corner.
I am happy he scored at the FIFA World Cup, everyone wants to see United players do well at international level, especially in a tournament like the World Cup. It does make me wonder whether Louis van Gaal will put his trust in the player this coming season. Nani has been linked with an exit for a while now, but at the start of last season, he was given a new five-year contract, which confused everyone, especially as he did not appear much in the starting eleven under David Moyes, despite recovering from injuries.
By Paul Bienkowski
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