After the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani had three solid seasons for Man Utd, but this term has been far from plain sailing.
The Portuguese international has found himself out of favour after failing to agree a new deal last summer and a supposed falling out with Fergie.
I’ve written before about our need for another wide forward at the club to provide competition and also cover for Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon. So, with just one year left on his current deal at the end of the season, could Luis Nani be a good fit for Spurs?
Wide players in the AVB system
Spurs under Harry Redknapp played with two wingers whose job was to receive the ball to feet, gain speed and drive at defenders to get in to crossing situations.
Andre Villas-Boas’ system requires the two players to operate further up the field and look to receive possession from more penetrative passes played through the defence. From here they are in better positions to either cut the ball back to a team mate, or to deliver a chipped or driven cross.
Nani is this type of player, who can receive possession looking to get in behind or through the channels between the centre backs and full back. He has shown this for regularly for Man Utd throughout his career from receiving the ball wide from forward or diagonal penetrating passes in the final third.
Whilst Man Utd do enjoy more possession than most of their opponents and in higher areas of the pitch, Nani still would be a good fit for AVB’s style of play. He does, and has shown, movement to make runs in-behind in order to receive possession from passes from his central midfielders or full backs.
From there he is able to cross or cut the ball back, which is a big reason behind his 40 Premier League assists in his last three seasons. One of his two helpers in limited minutes so far this term has come that way.
Against Wigan, he cuts inside and receives a pass played through the defence by former Spurs man Michael Carrick, before squaring for Paul Scholes to prod home.
Nani scores goals
Whilst our wide players are tasked with receiving the ball through the defence to create chances, they also need to have an eye for a shot at goal as well.
In his fleeting appearances this term, Nani has averaged 1.7 shots per game, but last season in scoring 8 times in the Premier League, he was averaging 2.2 shots per match.
He likes to come inside at the corner of the penalty area where he can shoot with either his left or right foot towards the corner of the goal.
Twenty goals in his last three Premier League seasons are testament to the fact that he has a capable scorer and would provide additional firepower from the flanks.
Nani on the defensive
Andre Villas-Boas requires his wide players to press the opposition full backs in order to force turnovers through tackles, interceptions and balls cleared downfield due to pressure.
Nani is more renowned for being an attacking player who excels with the ball at his feet, but he is no slouch when it comes to the defensive side of the game.
|Mins on pitch||2354||2030||482||2203|
|Aerial duels won/total||4/10||37/88||4/13||16/51|
|Mins per aerial duel||235 mins||23 mins||37 mins||43 mins|
|Mins per interception||102 mins||58 mins||60 mins||82 mins|
|Mins per tackle attempt||52 mins||59 mins||80 mins||45 mins|
I have included Nani’s figures from both this season and last due to the fact that he has played so few minutes this term. This has skewed his stats slightly, making them actually better this campaign than last season in two of the three categories, so gives a fairer reflection. We still have to take into account that playing for Man Utd, they are going to have more of the ball, so will spend less time winning it back.
Despite this, Nani fairs well in aerial duels where he competes in one roughly every 40 minutes over the last two seasons, winning around 30%. Aaron Lennon due to his diminutive stature naturally shies away from aerial contests, but Gareth Bale’s ability here has gone relatively unnoticed this season. The Welshman competes in an aerial duel every 23 minutes, winning a healthy 42%.
Gareth Bale has also excelled in regaining possession via intercepting the ball every 58 minutes. Nani has stolen the ball every 60 minutes this term, but given the fact that he has rarely played, last season’s 82 minutes is a truer reflection of his ability.
Nani is actually a very under-rated tackler and this part of his game probably gets the least credit. This season he has been successful with an excellent 66% of his ground challenges, but only making one every 80 minutes on pitch. Last term’s 57% succes rate and a challenge every 45 minutes are more on a par with how he usually plays.
Nani transfer fee and wages
The big sticking point, maybe. A couple of seasons ago Nani was reported to be worth around the £30 million mark, meaning he would have been a top-priced acquisition for Spurs. Last summer, Man Utd had an agreement with Zenit to sell him for £25 million, but the Russian club have paid over the odds for players due to the abundance of funds they have available. After shelling out €90 million on Hulk and Axel Witsel, they were apparently put off by Nani’s excessive wage demands, reported to be £120,000 per week.
Since then, Nani has found himself on the fringes at Old Trafford and reports now say that he is ready to drop his wage demands in order to play first team football again.
He is reported to currently be earning around the £80,000 per week mark at Man Utd, depending on where you read. This kind of money would make him a top-level earner at Spurs, but still attainable. If he was truly willing to drop his wage demands to join a team on the rise in order to play first team football, Daniel Levy could probably negotiate this down.
He is also entering the last year of his contract, which means his transfer fee is going to be considerably less than the figures Zenit were offering. Arsene Wenger was reported to have been weighing up Man Utd’s £16 million valuation in the last transfer window. With only a year left on his deal this summer, that figure will be closer to £14 million or lower this June.
Would Nani be a good fit for Spurs?
With Nani on the fringes looking in at Old Trafford and Man Utd probably not looking to renew his contract after last summer’s events, he could be available at a decent price.
Fergie seems to be freezing him out and the club could be winding down his contract, very much in the mould of what happened with Dimitar Berbatov. They may be looking to sell this summer to get something for a player who could leave on a free next year, or even sign a pre-contract agreement with another club in January.
His wage demands may be the biggest obstacle to bring a player like him to the Lane. If he really is willing to drop them to get first team football, then the lure of joining a team on the rise and working with a Portuguese coach may be appealing.
His style of play definitely fits what Andre Villas-Boas requires from his wide forwards and he can play on both sides of the formation being two-footed. Twenty goals and forty assists in his last three Premier League seasons is testament to that.
We are signing good young talent with Andre Villas-Boas at the helm and the average age of our side against Newcastle was just 25-years old. All of AVB’s signings so far, apart from Clint Dempsey and Emmanuel Adebayor, have been 26-years old and younger. Lloris (26), Dembele (25), Vertonghen (25), Sigurdsson (23) and Holtby (22) have all arrived as we look to build a good young core.
Nani at still only 26-years old would fit this bill of buying good young players. He would also represent buying the finished article rather than a work in progress, which is what a lot of our signings so far have been.