Melbourne Victory has announced the signing of former Manchester United star Nani on a two-year contract.
As first reported by Kick360, Nani will join the A-League giants on lucrative marquee wages and is seen as the missing piece of Victory’s attacking puzzle by head coach Tony Popović.
The 112-time Portuguese international will replace the outgoing Marco Rojas as the club’s second marquee player for the 2022/23 A-League Men season.
Despite struggling for minutes in Serie A at Venezia last season, the mercurial wide attacker brings with him a wealth of experience and offensive nous from a European career that spanned more than a decade.
Despite having played for the likes of Sporting, Valencia and Fenerbahçe, Nani is best known for his time at Manchester United where he was once named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year and led the league in assists. The Portuguese also mustered 40 goals in 230 games for the Red Devils and was recently named as an All-Star for Orlando City in Major League Soccer, where he spent three seasons.
It remains unclear whether the 35-year-old will be available to don the navy blue in Friday night’s friendly encounter against the side where he made his name. Ironically, if he were to feature, it would be the first time that Nani has ever played against Manchester United.
Nani’s unpredictability and penchant for playing a final ball will be crucial for the Victorian giants as they look to replace the creative output achieved by Jason Davidson last season, who recently departed the club for an opportunity at KAS Eupen in Belgium.
“We’re proud to be able to recruit a player like Nani to our Club and believe he will be an incredible asset for Melbourne Victory and the entire A-League,” said Victory head coach Tony Popović.
“He has enjoyed an incredibly successful career at both club level and international level and we believe his quality and experience will be key in achieving our ambitions this season.”
As the club and the league attempt to rebound from two years of pandemic-tainted dwindling attendances, Nani is also set to give Australian domestic football a new lease of life as he looms as an excitement machine for the upcoming season.
With a strong attendance of over 90,000 expected to greet Nani and his new teammates at the MCG on Friday night, the club will be hoping that at least some of that number emerges onto AAMI Park in October when the A-League Men begins.
On name-power alone, Nani is capable of drawing plaudits and prospective fans. Whether he still has the capacity to perform at a high level on the pitch is what will define his stint in Australia, and pertinently, what will be the decisive factor in determining if he makes a material difference on attendances in Melbourne.