Happy birthday, Nani, 22-years-old today! He is currently in Brazil with Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of Portugal’s friendly with Brazil.
In modern football, 22 is no longer that young. Just think, Wayne Rooney is 22-years-old and this is his seventh season of Premiership football!
Plenty of comparisons have been made between Ronaldo and Nani, with them both being Portuguese and joining us from the same club. Whatever differences you may believe there is between them, the most striking difference is the amount of football Ronaldo enjoyed when he first joined, unlike Nani who is still waiting for his break.
There is less than two years difference between the two players, yet their development is miles apart. Whilst we didn’t see the blinding shots Nani produced against Tottenham and Middlesbrough in Ronaldo’s first season with the club, he played far more than Nani has done since joining us.
Surely if we want to see the best of Nani, he needs to be played much more often than he has been so far. This would come at the cost of Ji-Sung Park and maybe even Ronaldo himself, but if we’re looking for someone to step in to Ronaldo’s shoes, isn’t it time we gave him the opportunity to move up a gear?
He is frustrating to watch, shooting when he should pass, passing when he should shoot, but his judgement can only improve if he’s given time on the field. It’s hard to think back and remember what Ronaldo used to be like, given his outstanding status in World football at the moment, but he wasn’t that great when he first joined. One trick pony he used to be called, remember? The difference is, Ronaldo was 18-years-old back then and it took him a good few years of playing week in week out to get him to where he is now.
If we want to see Nani develop in the same way, it’s time to give him his starting place.