If Nani finally starts to realise his undoubted talent, Fenerbahçe may have themselves a player who is capable of wrestling the Süper Lig title back from Istanbul rivals Galatasaray who won the Turkish championship last season.
With the arrival of Louis van Gaal at Manchester United after David Moyes’ disastrous reign, the Portuguese winger’s days were numbered. Nani was duly shipped out on loan to childhood club Sporting Lisbon in the deal that saw Marcus Rojo head to Old Trafford after a fine World Cup.
After such an inconsistent last few seasons, nobody expected the skilful winger to have such an excellent season and get back into the discussion of the future at Old Trafford. Maybe it was the familiar surroundings of the Estádio José Alvalade, who knows, but Nani scored 12 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions including an incredible solo effort against Maribor in the Champions League and a wonder goal against Gil Vicente which even brought the player to tears during the celebration.
On returning to Old Trafford over the summer however, it was still clear that the winger was not in van Gaal’s plans and was eventually offloaded to Fener in a £4.25 million deal. The Turkish giants strengthened well during the off-season which also saw them bring in United team-mate Robin van Persie for a similar fee, Simon Kjær from Lille and Brazilian international Josef de Souza amongst others to mount a title challenge.
For most United fans, the feeling is that it was right to finally let the player leave the club after never really living up to expectations in his eight years at the club.
After joining the club in July 2007 for a fee of €25 million, Nani was labelled as the next Ronaldo and his early form suggested the tag was suitable. Both possessed ridiculous pace and skill which obviously drew comparisons but it was the former that had the better stats at the start of his career in the Premier League.
What happened over the next several seasons for the two players couldn’t be further apart – Ronaldo has gone on to become a living legend of the game, with 313 goals in 301 games for Real Madrid since signing for a then world record £80 million. Nani became the perennial bench-warmer at United after such an inconsistent period that left many wondering what happened to the player.
The Portuguese was mobbed at the Istanbul airport when he flew in for a medical and sign the terms of the contract and was quoted by the Fenerbahçe website as saying
I really am very happy to be here now. I see this as a new opportunity in my career. This is an opportunity for me to show myself. I want to be successful.
I’ve seen all these fans coming out for me and I was really happy. I want to show them my best football. I always do the best that I can.
Since making his debut in the 0-0 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League qualifiers, the winger has made five appearances and is yet to score his first goal. His only assist to date came when he set up Robin van Persie with a right-wing centre in the 1-1 draw with Rizespor on Sunday.
In Nani, Fenerbahçe have undoubtedly signed a player with incredible footballing ability – the only question is if the team can be successful in getting it out of him. Only time will tell.