There's been speculation for months now that Nani would be leaving Manchester United either in the upcoming January transfer window or during the summer after the current season's end. The basic narrative has been that since he only has a year-and-a-half remaining on his contract, and also because Nani and the club are supposedly far apart from agreeing to a new deal, that his time at Old Trafford was soon coming to an end. The Portuguese winger has been sidelined as of late because of injury but even when he has been fit, the versatile attacker hasn't been first-choice on either flank this season. Despite all of this, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Nani will not be leaving the club in January:
"He’s injured. His contract’s not up for a year and a half. We need a Nani. He offers something different from the other players. He’s an incredible talent, the boy's a great talent. Unfortunately, he’s injured at the moment so we sent him over to Dubai for a break and hoping a bit of warmth will help him in his recovery. He’s not far away but he’s far enough away. I don’t think I’ll get him back until probably the middle of January. It’s a hamstring injury he’s got. A player like Nani has never had a hamstring injury ever – I don’t think he’s ever had many injuries with us. But he’s got it right in the top and it’s a bad one."
- Ferguson | Source: ManUtd.com
The gaffer had this response when asked whether the winger had a future at United:
"Yes. Absolutely. Why would I want to let him go? Obviously his people have been negotiating with [chief executive] David [Gill] about a new contract but I don’t know what stage we are at with that. But we won’t be letting him go."
At the current moment, the only other natural wingers on the squad are Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young -- both are currently the first-choice wingers on the right and left flank, respectively. As Ferguson mentions, Nani does offer something a bit different than either of those two. He's a genuine match-winner on his day as he offers the ability to turn any match with a moment of brilliance. In addition, he's capable of playing on either flank. He can, though, be a frustrating player as he tends to drift in and out of matches at times and his decision-making is often questioned by some.
United are not a club with unlimited resources when it comes to player acquisitions. At 26-years-old, Nani is perhaps hitting his physical peak and if he and the club can come to a contractual agreement, then that very well could be a situation that is best for all parties involved. United would likely have to spend more money for a comparable or better replacement than they would receive for the Portuguese international. Also, signing Nani to a new contract certainly wouldn't (or shouldn't) prevent the club from purchasing other young talented wide attackers if they were to become available (e.g. James Rodriguez). United, under Ferguson, are a side that is heavily reliant on the wide players for chances created. When considering that, along with congested fixture list that the club is continually faced with over multiple competitions each season, multiple options are needed due to fitness and form reasons. Keeping Nani is something United fans should be hoping for.