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Nani seeks a higher level
Published : 23 Sep 2011 10:35:35Rss feed
Nani hopes to take another step towards his long-term goal of becoming the best player in the world this season by having his best year for Manchester United.
Although it ultimately ended in disappointment, when he was left out of Sir Alex Ferguson's starting line-up for the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona, Nani felt he moved his game onto another level last term.
The reason seemed obvious. Antonio Valencia's lengthy absence with an ankle injury allowed Nani to switch onto his preferred right-wing, from where he produced a series of devastating performances, ending the season with more Premier League assists than anyone else. "Last year was my best year, definitely my most consistent season," he told Inside United.
"Now I hope this is my year. I will do my best. If I am fit for every game, I am 100% sure I will do my best and will do well for my team. This is a big chance to show I can do much more; that I'm a good player with a very strong mentality."
Nani has started in blistering form, scoring twice in the Community Shield, including the last-minute winner against Manchester City as United roared back from two goals down. He then bagged his first league goal of the campaign in that annihilation of Arsenal, before firing in an excellent first-half effort in last weekend's victory over Chelsea.
Nani will hope to maintain that form against Stoke on Saturday evening, aided by the arrival of Ashley Young, whose preference for playing on the left has again released the 24-year-old onto the opposite flank.
It is only a couple of years ago that Nani appeared to have no future at United. Certainly any claim of wanting to be the world's best would have been greeted with laughter. Now, although he is still adrift of Lionel Messi and former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, it is not quite so far-fetched.
"That's one dream I've got: to be the best in the world," he said.
"But I don't let it frustrate me. I have other priorities like winning trophies with the team. Hopefully, when I have finished playing football, people will say 'Nani was a fantastic player who won a lot of titles and beat records at the club'.
"I know I have the condition to be among the select best players in the world but I have to work hard and show that."